6/02/09 -This month's meeting started off with a good news bad news scenario. The good news for the redevelopment agency is that both bills, AB 458 (rainy day education fund) and legislation to restrict/kill STAR Bonds, died in the Senate in the late night hours. However, developers were hoping to revise/eliminate a double-dipping clause which says after September, STAR Bond projects cannot reside within Redevelopment Districts. So, the two pending STAR Bond projects (Tessera and the baseball folks) have to step up their game to make that deadline of creating STAR Bond districts.
Mark then went on to mentioned that he could possibly, probably be losing another redevelopment agency staff member as part of the next round of layoffs for the city. This would reduce the capacity of the redevelopment agency's staff to 6 'major' projects, which includes both RDA1 and RDA2. As part of this, RAAB was asked in this meeting to pick what they consider priority projects for RDA2, which would be passed onto the council.
So let's get to each priority project, and then I'll get into which projects were picked by the advisory board as priorities for RDA2.
10 North Virginia Street - Though this is a priority project, the project is on hold as the developer does not want to break ground until the economy improves. He still has a major Lake Tahoe restaurant on board. Mark Lewis estimated this project would be delayed at least by a year, and suggested it perhaps not be on the priority projects list.
ReTRAC Cover Retail - The request for proposal was approved by the city council, and will be out to bid until December 2009.
Whitewater Park Extension - There is currently no funding for this project, although there are open discussions with the county and the Flood Project folks to include the extension as part of the flood control project. Mark mentioned if it comes to fruition, there could be opportunity for actual river improvements not seen in the current whitewater park.
Facade Improvement Program - The funding for this project is currently not available. Although there was originally $500,000 slated for it, that money never materialized in this current economy due to some bond yields not performing as well as expected. I probably said that wrong because I'm not a financial guy, sorry! Anyway, Lewis has the idea of perhaps doing just one building as a demonstration project, so show the community what could happen if the entire block was made over. Stay tuned to see how this progresses.
Parking Garages Downtown - This project is likely to let slide until the economy improves so redevelopment staff can focus on projects more likely to happen in this economy.
Baseball Stadium - Completed.
Post Office Acquisition - For the most part, completed. The process for the post office to move into its new location will be about 2 years, although the plaza is expected to break ground this year.
West Street Market - Completed and 90% leased with one redevelopment agency staff member assigned to run it full time.
Sooo that's that for RDA1. Most of the RDA1 projects are either completed, or on hold until the economy gets better.
So after running through that somewhat bleak list of RDA1 projects, our attention turned to RDA2, of which Mark guided through a laundry list of possible projects, including the ones mentioned below:
Park Lane Promenade - This project is likely to be a big revenue producer for RDA2. Although it is not receiving any redevelopment assistance, its tax revenue will still benefit RDA2. So technically, it's not truly a priority project, but a project to watch as Lewis pointed out. The advisory board did was not happy with the plans for the property. The plans entail your typical big box type mall. It was mentioned Target is very interested in being the anchor for the project. Jessica Jones pointed out that whatever is built there will have to conform to Virginia Street Transit Oriented development standards, which include street fronting retail rather than parking lots fronting Virginia Street as with the old park lane mall.
Tessera - This proposed project would go in the general area east of Virginia, west of Evans, south of I-80 and north of 6th street. It's a large 4 block mixed-use project which includes retail, student housing, public gathering places, a non gaming hotel, and more. This project is one of two proposed 'STAR Bond' projects. Lewis described the project s immensely complex, and a catalyst project.
UNR Gateway/agreement - This project is located between 8th and 9th streets, and between Virginia Street and Evans. The idea is to create a greenbelt for the university, including gateway art. The idea here is take the blighted area between the university and downtown, and transform it into a University Village of sorts, something both UNR and the City of Reno would like to see happen.
East Fourth Street Corridor - The boundary of this project would be from Evans to the city limits, stretching along 4th Street. Through various means, including infill development, the goal is to revitalize this corridor back to the powerhouse it was 50 years ago, a thriving mix of residential and commercial. Lewis mentioned Kelly Rae has expressed interest in continuing to develop in that area, one infill project at a time. He envisions this area being developed over the course of 5+ years, and doesn't see any one developer coming in with some mass redevelopment plan, nor does he think that's appropriate for the area. He mentioned RDA is perfectly content with smaller independent adaptive re-use and infill projects in the area.
South Virginia Streetscape - This project would address the various challenges on South Virginia, from Cal Ave to Vassar in particular. The first step is to set standards and guidelines for the corridor, then develop a plan and schedule out and execute portions of that plan based on priority, funding etc. This includes sidewalks, benches, lighting, landscaping, and public art. There will be a significant public input process before the plan is finalized. This process has already started.
Linden Grove - A Challenged neighborhood, with predominantly low income families, code enfocement issues, service delivery issues. Redevelopment Agency is looking at possible unified service delivery platform for families via various non profit entities.
In the end, and after much discussion, the Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board decided Tessera, East 4th Street, and the UNR Gateway should be the priority projects for RDA2 that the agency and city council really focus in on. I tend to agree, because redeveloping the area between the University and downtown will make both downtown AND the university more appealing.