Downtown Reno is one step closer to a plan for revitalization | nnbusinessview.com

Downtown Reno is one step closer to a plan for revitalization

Sally Roberts
sroberts@nnbw.biz
The City of Reno Downtown Action Plan proposes strategies to improve downtown including the Environment, Economy, and Experience.
Courtesy P.U.M.A. |

Downtown Reno is one step closer to a plan for revitalization.

Representatives of Progressive Urban Management Association (P.U.M.A.) presented the Downtown Action Plan recommendations to the Reno City Council and the public on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Overall, comments were enthusiastic about the plan with some concerns expressed over whether the recommended funding options would work without affecting other city services.

“RAD stands unified 100 percent for this proposal,” Darrell Clifton, president of the Regional Alliance for Downtown, said during public comment.

Vice Mayor Neoma Jardon, who represents Ward 5 that includes much of downtown, noted the enthusiasm for the plan among stakeholders in the area.

“The interest in coming to the table to solve (the issues in downtown) is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she said.

In April 2016, P.U.M.A. was awarded the contract not to exceed $99,800 to develop a plan to create a “clean, safe and vibrant” downtown with specific actions that could be implemented as quickly as a few months or over a five-year period.

Brad Segal, president of Denver-based P.U.M.A., and J.J. Folsom, vice president of the association and a Reno native, presented the plan recommendations to the council.

In a phone interview with the NNBW, Segal said the community involvement has been great with more than 1,400 comments registered at various public meetings.

“Folks are focused on downtown,” he said.

Among the most significant recommendation is the creation of a downtown management organization to help guide and implement change.

Segal said Reno is unique among cities its size for not having such an organization. Examples of successful management organizations that Reno can model can be found in Sacramento, Calif., Boise, Idaho, Spokane, Wash., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The downtown management organization would oversee certain downtown services including augmenting police efforts with a team of uniformed ambassadors and case workers; walking and/or biking patrols; enhanced maintenance services on Virginia Street and spot cleaning of other downtown areas.

The organization could also help find solutions for the homeless population, an issue the city has long sought answers for.

The downtown management organization is not a cure for homelessness, Segal said, but it could be a compassionate way to work with people on the streets. By providing caseworkers and social services it could “deal with transients and the homeless on a very personal level.”

Segal said the management organization is fundamental to accomplishing the changes needed downtown.

The plan envisions the downtown management organization as a nonprofit entity managed by a board of directors and lead by an executive director.

The plan estimates the annual cost of the management organization at $1.9 million and suggests funding sources from impact fees on liquor and marijuana sales, to contributions from major institutions.

The downtown action plan divides recommendations into three categories: Economy, Environment and Experience.

Economic recommendations address:

Housing and amenities that people want to live near, such as grocery stores, a dog park on the ReTrac (lids over the train trench through downtown), and connections to the Truckee River;

Blighted and under utilized properties such as motels, vacant lots/buildings, etc.;

Jobs and innovation (by creating a “makers district” on E. 4th Street), direct connection to UNR, in fill in the commercial business district between the Truckee River and California Avenue.

Environmental recommendations include:

Enhancing bike, pedestrian, transit and vehicular infrastructures to improve connections to UNR, the downtown core, Truckee River, and Midtown;

Expanding the Riverwalk District north to the railroad tracks and south to California Avenue;

Better utilizing existing public spaces.

To enhance the experience of Downtown, the plan looks at:

Improving both the perception and reality of safety and cleanliness;

Strengthening downtown’s role as the region’s center for culture and arts by enhancing and promoting arts, culture, heritage, history and preservation;

Employing practices that make parking easier and hassle free, and to maximize mobility choices throughout downtown.

The Downtown Action Plan looks at a number of potential funding sources to implement the plan. City sources could include parking revenue, capital improvement program, tax increment financing, liquor and marijuana taxes, as well as general funds.

Private partners would also be sought for some aspects of the plan. Those funds could come from credit enhancements from large regional employers, crowd sourcing for specific projects such as a dog park, foundation/corporate grants and sponsorships, and historic property development incentives.

The Power Point presentation on Wednesday was a summary of the plan. Members of the Reno City Council, staff and the public have until March 3 to examine the complete 150-page document and comment on it before it goes to the council for approval on April 12.

If approved, the downtown plan will become part of Reno’s new master plan, which is also in the planning process.

“I’ve been pleased getting to know Reno,” Segal told the NNBW.

“I think we’ve addressed the issues.”

The summary of the plan and the complete plan can be found as attachments on:

http://renocitynv.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1676