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Neighborhood Revitalization Preserves History

On a recent summer evening, shrieks of delight could be heard all over the 500 block of Cheney Street as Enzo Cividino, 4, enjoyed a wheelbarrow ride courtesy of his neighbor, Jack Hawkins.  As Jack moved decomposed granite from one property to another, Enzo hitched a ride.  Enzo’s dad, Paolo, moved to the neighborhood “approximately 10 years ago, back when the neighborhood was [composed of many] rental properties.  It looked pretty beat at that time,” he recollected when I spoke to him this week.  The neighborhood was, however, “affordable” as well as a place where he saw “potential.”  He said, “It was obvious that years ago someone cared about this neighborhood.”  He bought a house and proceeded to remodel.  “I threw everything I had at it.  I wanted it to be a home and a place to bring clients so they could see my aesthetic.”  Paolo runs Tutto Ferro, a steel fabrication firm; his work can be seen all over the block and in many buildings around Reno.  Meanwhile, Paolo married Jasmine and they became parents of the exuberant Enzo.  Paolo continued, “After investing time and money in this project, I realized I was interested in the neighborhood, so I got hold of Jack and told him to buy.”  In the meantime, Baron Hershberger had bought a property next door to Paolo’s.  Jack and Baron collaborated on a town home project at the rear of Baron’s property, and Jack developed a town home project at the rear of the property he and I bought.  Eventually, a neighborhood community grew up, with other neighbors Sonny, Rebecca, Tim, Eric, Robin, and Candy contributing to create the Carmelina Merialdo community garden in Candy’s back yard.  Due to the “Great Recession,” many of the formerly owner-occupied homes are now rental properties, but the aesthetic and feeling of community remain.  Stroll the block some evening and listen for the shrieks of delight.

Contributed by Lyn Hawkins.



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