As I reported from the RAAB meeting two weeks ago, the Kings Inn pulled a demo permit and is in the process of renovating the Kings Inn into apartments.
They won't be low-income apartments, either. Though I haven't spoken with the developer yet, something tells me Amador "Chi Chi" Bengochea of Bentar Development, is going to be designing this to attract a younger generation just out of college who actually enjoy urban life.
The rush toward the center of the city is not exclusive to Millennials either. Middle-agers who aren't quite ready for a sleepy retirement involving golf and shuffleboard are also flocking to hipster-hoods.
Of course, the first thing out of a CAVE's (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) mouth will be that Reno is somehow excluded from these nationwide trends because we're supposedly a dead gambling town with no future.
The fact that it's impossible right now to find a home in Midtown under $250,000 that isn't a total dump, is telling. I know about five people desperately wanting to move into the center of the city, either near the University, or Midtown, or downtown, or even Old Northwest...and they are finding they are quickly priced out of these neighborhoods...at least for the moment.
Couple that with the fact that the Midtown and downtown rental markets are hot right now (Marmot Properties has nothing available to rent, and a 1 bedroom Montage unit recently rented for $1850 a month) and it's clear Reno is not excluded from the nationwide trend of people moving back to the center of the city.
So that brings me back to the Kings Inn. Will the developer tap into the pulse of this younger generation wanting to be close to all the action? Probably.
Let's start with that pool deck.
The Kings Inn has a fairly expansive pool deck and pool, left over from its heydays as a hotel/casino in the 1980s. The first item on my agenda, if I were the developer, would be drawing up plans to restore this puppy. An apartment complex downtown with a rooftop pool featuring some of the best views downtown? Yes please.
Next, because the whole place has to be gutted anyway (think piles of pigeon skeletons and years of no maintenance), why not emulate some of the amenities that make the Montage so appealing? Floor-to-ceiling windows, carpetless floors (maybe stained concrete or wood/faux wood), walk-in showers, uniquely-designed bath fixtures, and the like. If the majority of the units will be 1-bedrooms or studios, then make them REALLY kick-ass 1-bedrooms and studios. To compete with the Belvedere, who also has a little-but-nice rooftop pool, and rents out 1-bedrooms for $970 a month (the units are surprisingly nice inside), the Kings Inn should step up their game and include amenities that Millennials, college folk, and even baby booomers seeking out a more active lifestyle, would enjoy.
The Kings Inn, as noted in their permit application, is not a historic building. There are no brick walls to expose, no historic windows to worry about having to replace without making history-lovers angry. It's a blank slate, an empty palette, and a rare opportunity to completely convert one of the most hideous-looking structures downtown.
I have a feeling that's the direction the Kings Inn project is headed in. I can't wait to see plans, renderings, and peeps living there!