Restoring Downtown: The Hudson Project

by Mike Van Houten / Feb 26, 2014

If you're going to renovate an old home/duplex/whatever and attempt to make it a successful income property, in order to achieve higher rents you have to make the property appealing to someone who wants to live in a place with character. There are a myriad of reasons a person would choose to buy or rent an older home, including location, but one common thread among them all is they prefer homes with character...with history. This was true with Haberae's Dozen at the Deluxe project. Renovating yet preserving as much of the building's character as possible made it appealing enough to ask for, and get, $900+ a month in rent, and also become fully occupied before it was even finished. It's also the case with each Marmot renovation in the Wells Avenue and Midtown area, and why they, like Haberae Investments, can fetch higher rent once these renovation projects are complete. It's because they are COOL to live in.

Brian Egan had a similar vision when he started acquiring the once-shady swath of rentals spread out along the block encompassing Pine, State, Center and Sinclair. This area of downtown was kind of forgotten during the first redevelopment push last decade. Left behind, it became one of the more unnerving neighborhoods to walk through at night with my friends between downtown and West of Wells. Cutting diagonally through this neighborhood is a regular weekend ritual for my group of friends to get to Campo, the movie theater, Bruka etc. I probably walk this route 15 times a week or more. Recently, I began noticing changes to the rental properties on this block, did some digging and discovered it was the work of urban development pioneer Brian Egan, owner of Biggest Little City Club and many other cool properties downtown. 

One by one over the past year, he's been renovating the homes along Pine and State Street, restoring them to proper glory, and renting them to an entirely new demographic eager to live in an area with one of the highest Walkability ratings in Northern Nevada. As I sat in his office today, he told me the story of a young woman who strolled by as he was supervising the exterior re-finishing of one of the older homes he acquired, and fell in love with the property, and his handywork, so much that she not only was willing to pay $600 a month for a studio, but also reserve it to be first in line to get it.

But this is work you have to see to believe, so check out the photos below!

The Studio


The Two-Bedroom

Exterior Improvements

Mural by artist Erik Burke. Note the names of several families who throughout history have owned properties on the block Egan is working on.

New residents of the renovated properties start up a community garden.

Renovating the existing rental properties is only just the beginning of this block-wide project. The reason why this is called the Hudson Project is the building that sits on the corner of Center and State Street was built as a showroom for the Hudson Car Company in 1947. Expect a really cool project to come of this building as well. What was once a void between downtown and Midtown/West of Wells could soon become the most-walked neighborhood in central Reno. Keep an eye on this area!


Post your comments
  • February 27, 2014 - 2:24:28 PM

    So glad someone is investing in this area and upcycling buildings. Has safety in the area improved with these renovations?

  • March 1, 2014 - 1:49:02 AM

    Sorta like my property I purchased on state st that YOU personally told me "wasn't worth it" and "needed way too much work" etc... $35k later along with a new roof,plumbing,electrical,landscaping,paint, completely remodeled kitchen/bath while keeping all original charm later.... It rents for $825/month all day long and I've had offers to buy at considerably more than my investment. I saw the potential in this area 3 years ago. Live and learn right mike? ;-)

  • March 1, 2014 - 2:11:13 AM

    I am glad you scored a decent rental property James! Except I have no idea who you are nor would I ever pretend to be an expert on real estate investments and advise you on a purchase downtown, I'm a web and e-learning developer lol. are you sure you arent getting me and Mike over at ReReno/Reno Realty Blog confused ?