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Council Meeting Report

9/8/09 - It was an interesting city council/Redevelopment Agency meeting today. When the subject of priority projects came up, the post office seemed to take center stage. The board was not exactly shiny happy people regarding the current post office deal, with Cashell being pretty darn vocal about it. "If they can't offer us a sweet deal, we'll say no' he said once, and 'unless we get concessions, the deal would be a no'. And by concessions he didn't mean a cotton candy booth. Both the RAAB and Financial Advisory Board found that maintenance costs and the overall deal made the purchasing of the downtown post office an almost-foolish financial decision. Jessica Sferrazza raised the question of why they need to purchase the post office when it's not a blighted building and is currently being utilized.

Cashell mentioned that this has been a goal of the city for decades now, but with new 'discoveries' regarding maintenance and conversion costs, unless the city can get a better deal than what is currently on the table, the deal will be a big NO.

Councilman Dave Aiazzi seemed to really push to continue negotiations for the post office deal, and the board is asking for 30 more days to negotiate better terms. He mentioned the Post Office is 'nearly an abandoned building', being dark every night after 5:00 and during the weekends, and reminded the Board that the post office plaza was tied to the project. When Jessica Sferrazza suggested maybe the Post Office could lease the upper floors of the building Aiazzi countered that if they haven't pursued leasing the upper floors of the post office by now, they probably had no future intention of doing so. In a calm voice, Cashell turned to Sferrazza and said he understood her points, and he'll be the first one to say no if the deal doesn't pencil for the city, but 'the city has been trying to get this post office since your father was on the council'.

What are your thoughts? Should the council still pursue purchasing the post office, which includes the riverfront plaza concept?

John Hester then went through his presentation of priority projects and what should be considered priorities and what should be put on the back burner, which is essentially the same information here and here.

Mayor Cashell mentioned he wasn't happy with a couple of the projects being knocked off the front burner, and specifically mentioned the whitewater park extension. Pierre Hascheff also went on record as being hesitant about pushing the whitewater extension on the back burner, a project which has grown to a $10 million concept more than quadrupling the size of the current whitewater park that wraps around Wingfield Park downtown. It would extend from the end of the current whitewater park downtown to past Lake Street. They directed staff to continue to try to find sources of funding for the whitewater park extension.

John Hester gave a nice presentation on a new priority of getting geothermal firms to locate their offices near the University of Nevada Reno, downtown. For a while now, behind the scenes, the renewable energy stars have been aligning on both the local, city and state levels. It was mentioned a 'get-together' of 20 different potential renewable energy firms will meet at the Aces ballpark in the coming months, and they've all shown interest in locating downtown and near the University of Nevada Reno. John Hester encouraged the mayor and city council to attend this get-together and explain to these prospective companies how serious Reno is about renewable energy.

E-Dawn has contributed to this new push by introducing a series of testimonials by renewable energy companies already doing business here. You can check out the first video here: http://www.edawn.org/data-center/key-business-sectors/alternative-energy.

The Tessera project is also part of this push, and is in a prime spot to provide the office space required to house geothermal corporate headquarters. The Tessera Project, encompassing the blocks between 6th Street and the Freeway and Evans and Lake Streets, is also close to the University. Aha starting to see a tie-in here? It all fits together like a geo-steamy puzzle. E-dawn trying to lure renewable energy companies here, part of Tessera mixed-use plan is office space, and the Desert Research Institute and UNR having the programs to draw them here. NIck Pavich, principle developer of Tessera, mentioned to the city council in his latest presentation of Tessera that there is a renewable energy component to the project. Perhaps this is that component. Exciting!

Comments:

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Posted by: RenoSteve - 9/10/2009 7:20:58 AM
The Post Office is beginning to sound like a gigantic hole into which the city will have to pour huge dollars. IMO, the city should focus first and foremost on the enhancing the riverfront and extending the whitewater park. The building itself is not really the issue. Who cares if it remains a post office or not? The issue is trying to extend the walkway along the south side of the river and to - if at all possible - provide more river access at that site as the Post Office Plaza or whatever it is named was designed to do. If there is any way to extend that walkway, provide additional river access and allow the Post Office to CONTINUE TO OWN the building, that seems like the way to go. The city could abandon the street behind the Post Office (allowing the PO to use it as a new parking area) in exchange for the Post Office abandoning all or a portion of the current parking lot next to the river. From what I read this morning in the RGJ, the building itself is somewhat of a dilapidated structural mess - not a project that the city would want to take on in its current financial crisis without some huge source of outside funding that would largely or fully offset those costs. JMO.

Posted by: Bugsy - 9/10/2009 10:17:53 AM
Im begining to start wondering if this Mayor and City Council know anything about redevelopment. With their continued failures of proposed projects like the kings Inn, 10 North Virginia plaza and canopy, the downtown longs drugs store, and now the post office plaza and retail. Its time for the city to have a "changing of the guard" and get some real leaders who know how to negotiate and close deals.

Posted by: Wiley_n_Reno - 9/11/2009 7:48:50 PM
the Post Office purchase is looking like a money pit. In my opinion they'd also have to build a pedestrian bridge over the Truckee right to it if they really wanted people to go see what was over there after it was updated and developed. Better to concentrate on the plaza space over the train trench and 10 Virginia Street. One thing at a time...focus..focus!

Posted by: Sarah - 9/13/2009 7:36:14 AM
Of all the buildings downtown that need attention and redevelopment, the post office is low on the list. Take care of the blight such as the King's Inn before you start taking over buildings that seem to be operating just fine on their own.

Posted by: lakescrossing - 9/15/2009 12:55:35 PM
I thought redevelopment was about getting rid of blight and brownfields and replacing it with commercially viable space. The Post Office is neither blight nor brownfield. It's an historic building and the Postal Service does a good job of keeping it clean and free from vagrants and crime. Why move them out? Why take over their space? Why spend all that money especially now in a Recession with so many other better options on the table? There's acres of blight and brownfields downtown that still need to be addressed. If this is the modus operandi then why not buy the Federal Building, throw all the tennants out, and turn it into a retail mall. DUH!!!!!!

Posted by: B Cooper - 9/15/2009 4:29:04 PM
"Im begining to start wondering if this Mayor and City Council know anything about redevelopment. With their continued failures of proposed projects like the kings Inn, 10 North Virginia plaza and canopy, the downtown longs drugs store, and now the post office plaza and retail. Its time for the city to have a "changing of the guard" and get some real leaders who know how to negotiate and close deals." Absoutely. The Council meetings remind me of a 'Good Old Boys Club' where a majority of the members are looking for ways to enhance their personal reputations rather than working toward the benefit of the community. Time for a Change.

Posted by: Reno Navy Guy - 9/20/2009 5:35:21 PM
Reno Mayor, City Council: Focus on getting rid of the Blight from downtown (i.e. facade improvement, demolishment, newer buildings) before doing anything else and that will move the city in the right direction.

Posted by: RenoNavyGuy - 9/20/2009 5:36:00 PM
Reno Mayor, City Council: Focus on getting rid of the Blight from downtown (i.e. facade improvement, demolishment, newer buildings) before doing anything else and that will move the city in the right direction.

Posted by: tocatchathief - 8/9/2010 9:01:10 AM
Torn down motels... Tessera backs out. Ripped out landscape with dust issues... Courtyards at Iydlewild. 25 out of 80 houses built with weed control issues.... the Cottages@KR. Google it.

Posted by: Vanessa - 8/9/2010 9:17:15 AM
Not sure what you problem is with torn down motels? Even if Tessera did stall out because of economy, they still own a giant block of section downtown.

Posted by: Anakin-Marc - 8/9/2010 8:08:59 PM
I dislike torn down/abandoned motels as much as the next person. That said, I'd much rather have an empty lot waiting to be developed into a tax-generating facility than a cheap motel doubling as a crackhouse and street prostitution venue that consumes tax dollars through excessive police calls/crimes.

 

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