Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting

I have to get hold of the color renderings for you folks, because my opinion of this project changed quite a bit when I saw the matching color scheme of the buildings. Granted, one can only do so much splitting $500,000 between multiple building improvements, but hey I'll take a little improvement over no improvement. MOst of the buildings have two or three paint tones. Mark brought up the point that the cost to totally remove existing paint from the brick buildings was way out of their budget, in fact one building would have cost $400,000 to remove and restore the brick. A lot of lessons were learned with this pilot program; for example property owners and operators don't always have the same vision as the city. The Horseshoe Liquor store did not want to remove the hideous horseshoe sign, even when the city pressed hard and showed the owner renderings of his building without the horsehoe sign; it wasn't enough to convince them ultimately.
The CAC had concerns that the maintenance agreement with the existing property owners for 5 years wasn't long enough, and would like to see it bumped up to 10 years to make sure the new facades are maintained a while.

This was an interesting discussion. Apparently a couple of council members who represent the areas in Redevelopment District Area 2 were concerned RDA2 was not adequately represented or would not be adequately represented in the future as priority projects become established for that district. So at first the idea of creating a second CAC board was mulled, however this idea was quickly shot down as being too much of a strain on the redevelopment agency, to have to prepare documents for 2 CAC meetings each month would suck up already strained RDA staff time. So the idea of adding more members to the current CAC Board was talked about. The Council wanted to add 4 additional members, Dick Scott, who represented the CAC Board at the Council Meeting, said 2 would be better. Today, the CAC agreed, and doesn't really want to add more than 2, stating that they remember when the CAC had 13 members and they were less effective, and frequently didn't’t have quorum.
Then someone commented that none of the current CAC members live downtown, and the CAC felt it was not a good idea to assign 2 additional members who had a sole interest in RDA2 and not the city as a whole. The CAC recommended all members serve at large, including any new CAC members added. 

Mark Lewis, redevelopment administrator, confirmed with the CAC board that the redevelopment agency always attempts to bring projects forward to the CAC first before going to council for action. This affirmation was a little odd to me, as this was the sole purpose of this agenda item. However once discussion ensued about this item, it was clear the CAC board didn't share the redevelopment agency's affirmation that all projects unless constrained by time, go through the CAC first, and a list of projects were rattled off by a CAC member who recalled several times this wasn't the case. The CAC Board felt that while the redevelopment staff and agency may share this philosophy, they weren't so sure about the actual sitting members of the redevelopment agency board, and it was motioned that a message be sent back to the redevelopment agency board that projects should go through the CAC first before going to council for action.

VII. DIRECTION TO THE AGENCY BOARD TO ADD A CITIZEN’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER TO THE 10 NORTH VIRGINIA PLAZA SUBCOMMITTEE - Developer is still willing to move forward  with project. It's quite amazing John Pappas has stuck it out this long for this project ...first being among three bidders for the project, located where the Mapes once stood in downtown Reno, then being reamed by the city council when he came up with a retail building design that was based partially on the council's wishes, He diligently went back to the drawing board, and spent a lot of money on redesigning it. I think Mark Lewis is the only one who has seen the designs thus far. Jim Litchfield, CAC Board Member, will be sitting in on the 10 North Virginia Design Subcommittee. John Pappas still has a major Lake Tahoe restaurant in tow with him (I am guessing Garwoods) let's get this building built! I really hope the council doesn't delay this much further over design concerns.

A. AAA BASEBALL STADIUM  - Steel will be raised shortly. Already sold over 2500 season ticket reservations. Hiring people, good number of staff relocated from Tuscon.

B. ENTERTAINMENT CORE RETAIL - Most of their energy right now is focused on finishing the stadium. Immediate retail within stadium wont be open in April when the first game is played. As Mark Lewis put it, they are 'taking their foot off accelerator a bit on that.' That's too bad, I really feel for the stadium to truly be successful you HAVE to have that supporting retail ready and open as well.
The Bottom floor retail plan for the bowling stadium, which includes the unfinished portion on Plaza Street, should go before council in next month or so.

D. PIONEER SITE PROJECT - The Redevelopment Agency has had a couple of great meetings with Washoe County. If you aren't familiar with this item, this is the site of the former Pioneer Hotel and Casino on Liberty, Sierra, and Virginia Streets. When the new courthouse was built, the city had an obligation to provide a certain number of parking spaces for the building. While none of the council members were happy with using the Pioneer site as a parking lot for the Court House, they really were up against the wall with no other choice to provide parking for the facility. It was done in the hopes a deal could be reached with the County to possibly build a permanent parking garage there with retail on the bottom floor. After some deputes over landscaping and lighting requirements, the parking lot was built and paved. However, at a recent CAC Meeting, Mark Lewis announced a breakthrough with the County, and that they were interested in working with the City to find alternative location(s) for parking, and to turn the Pioneer site into a mixed-use facility which would include some office support spaces for the courthouses, and retail as well. The talks/meetings focused on key issues like how to maximize use of site. They are thinking to Relocate the parking and to find partners to scatter the parking in what Mark Lewis calls a ' non continuous parking district that focuses on properties that have parking deficits.' Would include county and city which have parking deficits. The new parking locations would be walking distance of main facilities they are supporting. Expect a series of ideas with a joint board within next 6 to 8 weeks. There are a number of staff people dedicated to this project to make it a success.

G. POST OFFICE - This project is regarding RDA acquiring the post office building downtown, and converting it to retail, along with building a river plaza where the parking lot for the post office currently sits. The parking lot will be moved to the south side of the building where Mill Street currently is. RDA is working through series of property paperwork and hurdles to get to closing date.  Closing date on P.O. should be early December. The United States Postal Service has very clear rules on acquiring new property, including past issues of property and surrounding property and environmental rules etc. related to new post office site. The new post office site will be located to the east of the Wells Avenue Overpass, near 6th street.
There will be a 2 year public process to get input on historic reconstruction of the post office building downtown. Construction of the plaza portion starts in Spring, and environmental work for plaza should start within next month or so. The CAC commented this project may not be on a lot of people's radars, and that this process has taken decades in other cities yet not here, and that this project would be a pleasant surprise to people (except my blog readers lol).

H. WHITEWATER PARK EXTENSION - needs funding! Currently finding funding source for design work. Work suspended until funding is found.

I. RETRAC COVER – PHASE I - Moving along tremendously. Completed December this year. Broken into 4-hour pours and the pours happen around 3 a.m. to maintain ideal temperatures. RFP for retail component will be going out within a week, and there is a 3 month window of opportunity to respond to RETRACT Phase 2 portion.

J. COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE CENTER - Men's overflow shelter now open. Now relocated from temporary outdoor shelter to indoor overflow shelter. Women and family shelter is in process of being staffed up this week, should open soon. New operator, Volunteers of America to run all facilities. The Community Assistance Center has received a lot of publicity nationwide and for the most part the attention has been positive.

K. WEST STREET MARKET - Moving along. Goal is to have everyone in by November 25, and grand opening December 6. Large holiday grand opening event in cooperation with the Food Bank. Wine Walk 'Sip and Shop'. Lear Theater will also be having some kind of awareness festival that day.  CAC would like to move christmas tree to West Street Plaza.

M. JOB FAIR - Community Job Fair - Council tasked RDA to come up with this. November 6. Part of program will be services provided to people, including from employment agency, job finding services etc.  Series of seminars as well as employers.  Will be at Ballroom. Expecting 5,000+people. All major media will be partnering along with newspaper etc. More information to come.


Post your comments
Posted by: wiley_n_Reno - 10/9/2008 2:29:41 PM
Great updates. I also noticed the Belvedere has an "Grand Opening" banner on it's exterior.

Posted by: Brian - 10/9/2008 5:14:30 PM
The pioneer site would be better suited for a Landmark. Its position in the skyline would offer perfect placement for a nice tower. I think the city should hold a contest for developers, whoever wins best design gets the land. Again Reno missteps and fails to impress. I only hope I am wrong.