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IMG_1628The massive construction you are seeing on Marsh above the Keystone cut is the Shapeshifter house for Peter and Turkey Stremmel.

I love modern architecture.  I will defend to the end a property owner’s right to build what they want on their property.  But I also recognize that neighborhood design restrictions can be a positive factor to maintain the special character that makes a neighborhood special.

This house is in the heart of Newlands Manor, the genteel center of classic homes and old money in Reno.  Though the Marsh and Palisades escarpments have a decent measure of modern houses, they somehow manage to fit into the neighborhood scale and design.  Shapeshifter is classic example of Fuck You architecture, an architectural expression totally unto itself without even a hint of a nod to the surrounding development pattern.   It’s compatibility to the neighborhood was personally approved by Reno’s Director of Community Development.

Want to know why people hate architects?  Read this rationale for the house.  Mental masturbation at it’s finest without a money shot.  Did the client actually buy into this program or just like the house?  They had another design permitted, then cancelled it and went with Housezilla instead.

What do you think?

Correction:  The Shapeshifter is not technically within the Newlands Neighborhood Plan area.  But ask the neighbors on Marsh where they live and the answer will be Newlands.



What Reno Owns

reno_city_hallReno is broke and getting broker.  It is seriously time to look at the City’s real estate assets, divest what isn’t necessary, and make some tough decisions on some other properties.

HERE is what the Reno Housing Authority owns.  Mostly subsidized and Section 8 housing.  But things like 1004 Forest in booming Midtown thrown into the mix.  Some of the newer purchases are probably deed restricted, but what can be sold should be sold.  You have to ask why the Reno Housing Authority owns property in Sparks at all.

HERE is the City of Reno list.  Parks, fire stations, city hall, weird streets.  There are a lot of RETRAK parcels and Redevelopment projects encumbered by Reno’s bond debt (some of the lots at Keystone / Chism are actually optioned by the Aces).  But there is a lot of fluff that could be sold off to the highest bidder.  30 NVA aka 10 NVA – the winter Rink on the River.  Did you know that Reno owns the Starbucks parking lot at 532 SVA?  190 Liberty is the historic old Southside School being rented out to non-profits for cents on the dollar and is ripe for loft redevelopment.  The dead condo project on Riverside?  307 Morrill and 1880 Mill?

Councilperson Brekhus has been pushing for a thorough review of Reno’s real estate assets throughout her term and running into a brick wall.  Why?

See any other low hanging properties?


MMErenoThat’s Medical Marijuana Establishments in legal speak.  Washoe County just posted the applications to date for the dispensaries,  cultivation (grow) houses , production (food)facilities  and testing laboratories.

Anyone want to go to the Secretary of State’s site to track down the applicants?  Ex-Reno mayoral candidate Eddie Lorton has applied for permits for both a dispensary and a a grow house (highly discouraged combination) in the Old Brewery District.

Reno Provisions

845001[1]Mark Estee (Campo, Heritage, Burger Me) just received a permit for his new Reno Provisions project.  The site is 10,537 SF located on parts of the 1st Floor and Basement of 100 N. Sierra Street, the long nearly vacant old JC Penny’s building (it looks better today than this old photo).


According to the PERMIT, the facility will include restaurant(s), retail, and a demonstration kitchen.  This is one more great step forward for the Riverwalk District.

El Cortez, Apple, Marketplace, Snows


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe historic El Cortez Hotel closed escrow today with a purchase price of $2,175,000.  That works out to about $19,000 per room or $53/SF.  The sale includes the vacant lots at 244 and 490 W 2nd Street.  Another fine project from The Siegel Group.

-  Apple has applied for core and shell permits for 2 additional 20,000 SF data center buildings at their cloud farm east of Sparks.  In addition, they applied for tenant improvement permits to complete the last 2 of their current 4 building phase.  The current projects will bring the data center square footage over 140,000 SF plus their admin building and strange $500,000 free-standing bathroom.  HERE is a chronological list of their permits.

-  The Great Western Marketplace is already becoming less great.  Compare their original plan

GWM Plan-page-0 (1)

with their current plan.


-  Our Lady of (Perpetual Land Grab) Snows’ application to abandon the block of Wright Street adjacent to their “campus” goes before the Reno City Council on Wednesday 20 August.  You can view the entire application HERE.  I’m not sure if owner Noticing has gone out yet, but 90% of the neighborhood is renters and won’t necessarily hear about the change to their ‘hood. As Snows points out, over 95% of the Wright Street Traffic is already related to church/school activity.  On the negative side:

*  Reno has a policy against abandonment and to maintain the existing street grid.

*  The “professionals” who prepared the application forgot that in an abandonment, half of the right of way gets dedicated to the adjacent property.  The area that should be dedicated to 665 Monroe (blue box below) was “missed”.

*  Snows is famously opaque, and no one believes that this request is the end of their neighborhood domination campaign.  Sometimes a use just outgrows its site and it is time to relocate.

*  They simply don’t need the abandonment to achieve their stated goals.  A slight redesign of the new 30,000 SF parish center and/or a variance to allow a zero lot line setback from Wright Street.  The 18 parking spaces I show eliminated would be replaced by the existing on-street parking.

Wright Abandonment-page-0

TRIC or Treat


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TeslaGateLance Gilman absolutely hates it when the media refers to Tahoe Reno Industrial Center as TRIC.  Dude, if I also owned the brothels next story and was a sensitive type, I might have gone with Reno Tahoe Industrial Center.  Just sayin’.

So what do you need to know about TRIC?  First of all, it is vast – 167 square miles (for reference, the Martis forest fire was 15 square miles).  Second, it is its own little fiefdom within Storey County.  TRIC approves construction plans and sends them on to the County for a rubberstamp.  HERE is the approved development agreement.  Hard core industrial and manufacturing uses are per-approved, sort of a little unregulated future Superfund site.

Want to live near TRIC to ease your commute?  You can’t.  The back-end of the development agreement above has maps of where housing is allowed in Storey County.  Feather River  had a 320+ unit SFR development approved at Wadsworth, but they got foreclose.  G Blake Smith of Somersett fame/infamy proposed the Cordevista  development on a site so remote it had been previously approved for rocket fuel testing, and Storey refused to change the zoning.  Man, that got really legal and ugly if you Google it.  Storey has decided (probably correctly) that residential development is nasty and can’t support its costs to service it.  Who needs housing next to a toxic industrial complex that is paying the freight?

TRIC wants to connect their USA Parkway from I-80 to US 50 near Silver Springs.  This would open up potential air freight from the Silver Springs airport, and make the center much more accessible from Carson and the meth labs in Silver Springs itself (seriously, I have traveled this country extensively, and Silver Springs is the worst place on earth).  The proposal from TRIC?  We will build the road, bill NV $40M for it and dedicate it to the fine citizens of the state.  We just won’t built it to state standards, pay prevailing wages, or respect the cultural artifacts we may find in the process.  NDOT WISELY passed on the deal.

So we have a developer trying to land the biggest economic development project in the world right now, and he is meeting with Mistress Donna to set her hourly rates in the morning and then meeting Elon Musk in the afternoon.  This is a little too wild west for my comfort zone.

Should Tesla be locating at TRIC?  Absolutely yes based on logistics and all practical considerations.  Will they?  Ask Albuquerque how true to their agreements Tesla is.  Can Nevada bend over far enough to make this happen?  In the end I sort of doubt it, and I will respect NV if they call bullshit on Tesla’s unprecedented welfare demands.  That said, I hope we can get it.


Tesla Talk

teslacrashSome comments about the details that have leaked out:

-  WG Yates is indeed the general contractor for the project, as speculated here in June.  Their construction sign was on the locked project front gate shown in the KTVN report last night.

-  CH2MHILL is the architect/engineer, also from the construction site signage.  A totally legitimate firm, and one of the few large enough to handle a project this large (I had speculated Albert Kahn Associates). Note to Jason, AJ and B O’D – track down the signage company and see what else they have printed up!

-  Tesla does not own the site yet.  TRIC developer Lance Gilman has been quoted about how the megapad can be repositioned for other users if Tesla bails out.  I’m assuming Tesla paid for the pad development, but that is not a guarantee.

-  The pad is 5 million SF and the factory is predicted to be 10 Million SF, so it sounds like 2 storeys.

-  Lance Gilman was quoted that the steel for the structure has been ordered, but could be repositioned for another Tesla site.  I’m not so sure that is 100% feasible.

-  It was amusing to see F & P Construction finish the pad development ahead of schedule, and shaking up Tesla’s well rehearsed and controlled narrative for the project.

-  Tesla wants 10% of the factory construction cost to come from the State in the form of cash or incentives.  One jenius commentator on the RGJ figured this would amount to about $800,000 per new job created ($500,000,000 / 6500 jobs), not a credit to the Nevada education system.  Still, at $80,000 per job, it is pretty expensive – $180 per Nevadan.

-  Pretty much any new manufacturing facility in NV is going to get a hefty incentive package (property tax abatement, sales tax abatement, and anything else that will stick to the wall).  We don’t make money on the manufacturing, but we DO on the jobs created.  Sales tax, property tax, construction jobs for new housing, service jobs to support the new residents.

-  Tesla claims they will break ground in a couple other locations, but has not done so to date.  I continue to believe this is a bit of a red herring as the costs could hit $30,000,000 pretty quickly.  That’s not chump change to any publicly traded corporation.

-  I would love to hear the details of the tax and incentive package being requested by Tesla and being offered by the state.  That won’t happen until the deal is done, unfortunately, and probably not even then – Tesla has a bad track record of bolting from approved deals – ask Albuquerque.

2305 Sagittarius

The Realtors get really pissy when I post their “copyrighted photos” from the MLS, so you will have to go the LISTING for the visual treat.  This is a singular vision property, to say the least.  A couple of gallons of Navajo White?  And we now know where Santa Summers!

Downtown / Midtown Sales

195 W 2nd Street is the Olympic Motel.  This 20 unit motel/weekly was purchased for $890,000 in 2001 and completely remodeled in 2006, and sold for $858,949 in August 2008.  The transaction appears to be a deed in lieu of foreclosure and a resale by the bank for $565,000 or $28,250 per door.

180 E 1st Street is the about-to be-former home of Men Wielding Fire and La Familgia before that.  Purchased by the developer of the proposed Waterfront Tower condos for $578,801 in October 2003, and foreclosed upon in November 2011 and for sale ever since.  New sales price this week was $255,000.

600 S Center Street sold last week for $580,000.  This is a 6000 SF commercial building on a double lot in the heart of Midtown, and last sold for $573,500 in December 2002.  $97/SF.  Maytan Music at 777 Center recently sold for $1.4M or $58/SF and included an additional lot.

1700 SVA is an odd little building wedged between a used car lot and a donut shop.  Quite a bit of land was added to the back of the site when Holcomb Street was realigned.  Purchased for $359,999 in July 2008, and resold for $229,000 or $144/SF.  When I looked at the building, I couldn’t get any use to pencil at over $100/SF.

894 S Center Street is an end unit in the 8 on Center project that pioneered Midtown redevelopment.  “Sold” for $495,000 to establish a comp for the other units, the property was foreclosed on in November 2011, and resold for $189,900 in January 2012.  The unit sold 2 weeks ago for $330,000.

Name It

OpenThe New York Times ran THIS article today, painting an interesting and accurate picture of the changing Reno.  “Start Up Row” was probably coined by some burned out hipsters at the Bar bar on 1st Street, but the name has stuck and gained traction.  If you believe hard enough, perception can become truth – maybe this really will become our start up district.

Look at Midtown.  It was just a marketing name 5 years ago, but the name stuck (SODO and many others did not).  Today it is place to be in Reno.

Curiously enough, I ran into a new district moniker today, the Brewery District.  The property is 401 E 4th Street and is dramatically over priced, but the area really IS becoming a brewery and distillery district, along with restaurants, nightclubs and small businesses.  Is the Brewery District Reno’s next big thing?

“Where Next?” is a question I am asked a lot.  West of Wells and Midtown seem to have their own gravity going on at this point, and though there is much infill and gentrification yet to be done, the real estate deals are long gone.  I have some ideas of mini-neighborhoods I think are ripe for redevelopment.  Send me your ideas and I’ll include them in a What’s Next post.



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