Midtown: Drive-Thru or No Drive-Thru?

by Mike Van Houten / Jun 11, 2014

Being pushed through Reno Planning and City Council is a request for an alley abandonment for Pueblo Avenue surrounding the redevelopment project for Heritage Bank. This will allow for at least one drive-thru, possibly two, for this project, in a district designated as pedestrian-oriented development.

ReReno has a write up on the project. The usually-vocal Midtown peeps either don't know about these plans, or don't care, or suddenly reversed their desire to not have any drive-thrus in this corridor, as mandated by the Midtown Neighborhood Plan drafted by Midtown businesses and residents, because I haven't heard much in the form of opposition. Overall I am a fan of this particular redevelopment project because the Heritage Bank building sorely needs a facelift.

A rendering of the project is below.

What are your thoughts? Midtown, which technically starts at Liberty as the northern border, is already getting one drive-thru with the construction of the Starbucks at the U.S. Bank Building on the corner of Virginia and Liberty, and now one, possibly two more with the Heritage Bank project.

It will be an interesting City Council discussion today, and hopefully the underlying use for the alley abandonment is discussed for the Heritage Bank building on the 1400 block of South Virginia in Midtown.

What are your thoughts? Is one drive-thru that big of a deal? Does it set a dangerous precedent of 'Well this developer did it, so I should be able to as well?' Or does the developer have a valid argument that the drive-thru(s) should be grandfathered in because one of them was among the oldest drive-thrus in Reno, even if it's being re-purposed for food/drink?

For me personally, I don't drive in Midtown so a drive-thru won't be very relevant to me, so I don't have an opinion about it either way, other than it seems silly to build something that doesn't conform to the Midtown District Neighborhood Plan...however neither are used-car lots, and I was thankful when a used-car lot replaced Norm's Auto on the corner of Holcomb and Virginia, rather than the liquor store that was VERY close to being built in that space.


Post your comments
  • June 13, 2014 - 12:14:22 PM

    Midtown's in a tricky spot right now. Lots of people come to that area in cars. I'm sure on some level they'd like to exclude drive-throughs, and they should - if the drive-throughs would end up being fast food, it's actually running counter to what the neighborhood is all about. But, the businesspeople on that street like money and there are a ton of parking lots and the support for making it a better pedestrian environment seems to be the most tepid form of lip service. Developers in Reno usually get what they want. Anyone else care to speak out against drive-throughs in Midtown?

  • June 15, 2014 - 9:40:32 AM

    I'd say keep cars out. The "West" is so car-oriented that you'd think the early settlers who came along the Oregon Trail vowed never to walk again after walking from St. Louis, and they made sure that future generations would never walk as well. Rather than drive-thrus we should create something like Boulder CO's Pearl Street Mall. Close a complete street for eateries and boutiques, etc.; walking only. They're the "happiest city in the Nation", we might as well try and figure out their secret.

  • June 15, 2014 - 8:23:25 PM

    Hi Mike, I posted a very long response titled: "Why Midtown Should Ditch Drive-Thrus" on my blog. I love reading your blog and I hope to keep this debate going! The link is: http://goodlittlecity.com/can-reno-become-a-good-little-city/14033390 Thanks!

  • June 16, 2014 - 8:25:54 PM

    No to drive thru's in midtown. Blake Smith went bankrupt in Somersett and now he has his sights on midtown. Midtown is a walking community and should stay that way. The city council should not change for Mr. moneybags smith (although a few of them are already in his pocket--I guess just joining the crowd of council corruption).