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Neon Line community forum scheduled for January 10

By Kristen Hackbarth

A community meeting to provide information on the proposed Neon Line District is planned for Jan. 10 at the National Automobile Museum from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The City of Reno is hosting the forum following complaints that it was moving forward with approvals for district developer Jacobs Entertainment without adequate community involvement and transparency.

The January meeting doesn’t appear to be geared toward gathering feedback or soliciting input on how downtown development should proceed. It’s billed as a discussion opportunity where “a significant portion of the meeting will be devoted to questions and answers.” 

The Neon Line District is proposed to be a mixed-use development west of the downtown core bound by Fifth and Second streets to the north and south and Keystone Avenue and West Street to the west and east. It would redevelop 77 properties owned and controlled by Jacobs.

City officials are accepting questions on the Neon Line development before the meeting, too, “so that we may be able to incorporate much of the concerns in our opening presentations.”

Council members Devon Reese and Naomi Duerr in October both agreed that Jacobs needed to hold more public meetings to communicate about the development and correct misinformation. Despite their concerns, they joined other council members in approving a 20-year development agreement with the company at that meeting. 

The development agreement offers millions in incentives for the developer and includes plans for lighting and signage, but no concrete plans for housing or other development features.

Earlier this month the council was set to take up abandonment of several alleyways as part of the development without a community meeting beforehand. The agenda item was withdrawn the night before the council meeting and the January forum was announced.

City officials didn’t say if council members or Jacobs representatives would be at the meeting. City Manager Doug Thornley said his staff was organizing the forum. 

“So I’ve asked our staff to organize a public forum on Jan. 10, when we can spend more time with our community to discuss how projects proposed in the downtown core are evaluated. We look forward to hearing what our residents have to say,” he said.

Registration for in-person participation is available online here. Those who can’t attend in person can participate via Zoom, and be a part of the Q&A session, by registering here. The development agreement and additional supporting materials are on the city’s website here.

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