courtyardbymarriottYou may have figured out that I am more than a bit of a cynic when it comes to development.  In fact, my user name on the old blog was “jaded”.  Once in a while, I’m proved wrong.

The long delayed Courtyard By Marriott hotel located on the Truckee across from Aces Ballpark is moving forward – the $250,000 site development permit has been issued and the $9M permit for the 135 Room 4 Story main building is awaiting pick-up.  This is a tough site, with just about every local and regional agency reviewing the project, and in the Riverfront Promenade district of the Downtown Regional Center.

No word yet on Herb Simon’s plan for the old Waterfront Tower site up the block at 2nd and Center.  3.35 Acres, also on the Truckee.

Canyon, Dick’s, and At the Movies

ParkLaneCinema- Have you ever wanted to own your very own canyon?  You can buy a nice 14 acre one for $123,390.  This is the canyon that gives Canyon Center East of McCarran between I-80 and 7th Street its name.  Although it looks daunting and is zoned Open Space, I see some single family SF6 development on the eastern strip.  Let me know if any of you wants to give it a go!

One take-away here is that much of the open space we all assume is public land is in fact not.  Peavine can be developed about a half a mile up the slope north of Somersett.  Caughlin Ranch is girded by develop-able to the  north and west.


-  Dick’s Sporting Goods has a 50,800 SF big box superstore starting its journey through Reno Planning.  It will be located in the SE section of Meadowood Mall, tucked behind Sears.  Dick’s is a big enough deal that it probably could have qualified for STAR bond financing at the Outlets at Sparks if Sheel’s didn’t have an “exclusive”.

DicksElevations-page-0-  Along side Dick’s, Cinemark (Century) is planning a 54,350 SF multiplex movie theater.  Cinemark also owns the 58,633 SF Park Lane Cinema 16-plex only 2 miles away.  Park Lane was built in 1998, is no longer state of the art, was part of a traffic generating mall that has since been demolished, no one I know has anything good to say about the theater experience there, and I can’t imagine the same operator maintaining 2 complexes is such close proximity.  Strike 4 on Park Lame.

Cinemark Elevations-page-0

Meadowood Plan-page-0






Park Lane Mall Activity

park laneThe owners of the former Park Lane have just recorded a  Parcel Map  on the northern portion of their property.  The existing parcel are a real mess, and this new map cleans things up.  But it also indicates imminent development intent, so lets take a look-see.

This is the original development plan, maybe the worst I have ever seen.




The developer initiated action to apply for a Special Use Permit to allow for 5 drive thrus along the Plumb frontage about a year ago.  Reno Planning indicated that they were not amused, as drive thrus are forbidden in this zoning district, and the anchor tenant was going to be CVS relocation from Shoppers Square across the street.

The latest brochure from the developer is HERE.  Not much of an improvement, but the new parcel map may indicate a change of direction.  The existing signalized entrance along Plumb Lane seems to being abandoned in Parcel B.  I think Parcel B is destined to be strip retail.  Parcel A still looks a lot like a CVS sized site to me.

Hey, Park Lane is a stain on the urban fabric and I hope it can be redeveloped.  But I fear that a huge opportunity to make a significant planning impact on Reno is going to be twiddled away by a developer with zero vision for the community and no other consideration other than their bottom line.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother downtown core property is about to change hands, with the Siegel Group adding to its holdings with the purchase of the Nevadan Hotel Tower from the Cal Neva folks.  Siegel now controls the Truckee River Lane Building (Java Jungle), the Virginian Casino Hotel across the street from the Nevadan, the El Cortez, the Senator Hotel on 2nd Street, and the Nugget Courtyard Motel in Sparks.

I’m ready to see some ACTION on these properties.  El Cortez has been cleaned out and rebranded as another Siegel Suites property.  The Senator is a dump.  Truckee River Lane wants Reno to donate their riverfront parks to make remodeling feasible.  Virginian just sits there fading a bit more every day.  My vision for downtown isn’t slightly more hygienic weekly hobotels with “Siegel Points”.

And the winner of the Lipstick on a Pig Award goes to this previous renovation proposal for the Nevadan!


The Kings is Dead

renoretail kings innLong Live the Kings!  The local landmark Kings Inn closed escrow today for $1,350,000 to 303 Reno LLC.  The new owner expects to issue development plans in the spring for 142 unit of “subsidized” housing.  We will never know all the complexities of this deal, but Reno pledged the entirety of next years $452,000 federal low cost housing grant to the project if it can qualify (was it a multi-year commitment?  What about other deserving projects?), and Washoe was negotiating to forgive the property tax penalties outstanding on the project (and maybe the property taxes themselves).  Sure hope that the mural/tag on the West Street side doesn’t turn out to be a Banksy and have the who project turn “historic”!

-  Q & D construction has filed a Mechanic’s Lien and Notice of Lis Pendens for just shy of $6M against the owners of the Reno Technology Park.  Think site of the Apple Cloud Farm east of Sparks, 200,000 SF and growing.  Apple paid their share of the bill – the developers did not.  The same development team is behind the Tessera project in downtown Reno, where Apple was planning to open their receiving facility to capitalize on their $89M tax break package.  I get the distinct impression that Apple would rather switch to an Android operating system than place a facility in Tessera.

-  Great VIDEO of the progress on the Downtown Reno Post Office project!  Hey Apple, receiving docks, cool space, hip location for your workers.  Wanna do lunch and discuss?

Sierra Canyon Tops Off and Other Stuff

toppingout- On Monday morning, the trusses will be raised on 1251 Dutch Hollow, the highest home site in Del Webb’s Sierra Canyon (and the last to block my view).  Sierra Canyon – Sierra Canyon II at this point – seems to be on a tear.  76 closed transactions YTD.  Site work is well underway for Village 13 and lender approval to subdivide Village 14.  What happens after the final Village 15?  Will there be a Sierra Canyon III?  I believe there will be.  There is a site for 136 housing units in the Mortensen tract only accessible through Sierra Canyon via Bennetts Court.  The Age Restricted folks won’t want to allow rugrats there.

-  Also in the neighborhood, Sunset Bluffs, that scar above Mogul has hit the market at $86,000 per unfinished raw lot.  Great to see some action on this eyesore at our Gateway, but it is overpriced by 7X or so.  My recollection is the $1.3M bond the listing refers to is a Restoration Bond to remove the existing improvements and restabilize the hillside, not a Completion Bond to finish off the site improvements.

-  Want a piece of downtown?  The Horseshoe just hit the market.

- Why are the downtown developers redlining the Wells Avenue District?  Easy question.  The plan is so prescriptive as to be unusable and undependable, and the zoning boundaries split at the street level rather than the alley or zoning break level.   Why would a developer choose a Wells parcel to develop when the parcel across the street in Midtown has development and parking bonuses?  They won’t, and the Wells District will continue to flail and fail until a more comprehensive plan is implemented – over the continuous objections of the ultra NIMBY neighborhood associations.

Sterling / Kings

SterlingSierraThe brand spanking new private student housing project northeast of UNR has just changed hands for $48.5M.  These are rented out by the bedroom, and the sales price works out to $54K per bedroom.  Granted the bedrooms and common spaces are furnished, and there are some nice amenities, but the price is jaw dropping.  Rental rates are in the $5-600 per room per month range.  The buyer is Horizon Realty Advisers out of Seattle.

-  The sale of the Kings Inn is schedule to close in about a month.  There are currently 154 rooms in the building and the 2nd floor can be converted from casino to residential.  The new owner is planning 144 units.  Based on current room sizes, the product mix will be about half 1 bedroom and half studio units.  Assuming a $10M investment for the property and improvements, this works out to $70K per door.  I would have a tough time making that pencil out.  Any comments on that, Marmots?


UNRCaerialIf you blinked, you missed it.  Reno is considering adding the north end of downtown into the University of Nevada Regional Center (UNRC) and subtracting it from the Downtown Reno Regional Center (DRRC).  While UNR has held several stakeholder meetings while preparing their new 10 year plan, and RTC has done considerable community outreach on their North Virginia Street Plan,  Reno has only held the NRS minimum 1 community meeting required.  A massive change of direction is proposed, and no one in the community not living within 750′ of the existing regional centers knows about it.  This is being fast-tracked more rapidly than any major policy project I have ever witnessed – 2 months from initial introduction at the Planning Commission to enabling ordinance adoption.

The UNR 10 Year Plan  (see Power Point presentation, but the rest is interesting, too)  identifies a very limited area of interest – Sierra to Center, I-80 to 5th, with some outlier circulation improvements.

The RTC Virginia Street Corridor Plan  manages to strategically nuke every weekly motel north of I-80.  Let the eminent domain sideshow begin.

Reno’s Plan  is far more sweeping (interesting that the URL on this link is RTC and not Reno or UNR).  That’s not wrong – a Regional Center encompasses a much larger area that the physical use it serves.  But take a look:

University of Nevada Regional Center Plan MAP-page-0On the NW corner, the boundary has been red lined around the Circus Circus, but the vacant block they own and an auto shop on Sierra have been excluded from UNRC.  Why?  Replacement casino?

I’ve never seen a proposal that took UNRC south of 5th Street, but the City is proposing all the way to the train trench, throwing the homeless services campus out of DRCC (the only place it is allowed) and into UNRC.  I think this is a red herring, and the boundary will be redrawn without the homeless campus pending further study at the Planning Commission meeting.

There are medical marijuana establishments (MMEs) within the area Reno is proposing to add to UNRC, which UNR will oppose strenuously.  Reno’s hands are tied – it is a State issue at this point.

There is no point opposing this plan.  The stars are aligned for ramrod approval.  Here are my concerns:

-  This isn’t just the UNR gateway, it is downtown Reno’s gateway.  Reno looks like it is sucking hind tit in the proposed agreement.

-  In the interim until a Neighborhood Plan can be established south of I-80, it will be chaos.  Parking requirements will go from the laxest under DRRC to the most restrictive under UNRC.

-  FARs will be reduced from 3.0 to 2.0.  Reno anticipates raising this to 4.0 to encourage density and maybe get a grocery store.  Ask any developer in the SVA corridor how the increased FARs work for them.  They have had to be slashed to meet market realities.

-  Unintended Consequences – The 2004 eastward expansion UNR Plan resulted in a whole sketchy neighborhood becoming REALLY sketchy when everyone assumed UNR was going to swoop in and buy their properties and stopped maintaining them.  This plan may do the same to an already decrepit area of town.  Recently approved zoning amendments for the Wells District of DRRC will have to be unwound.

-  Why?  This is just a branding exercise.  Does anyone believe that there is a threat from a new unlimited gaming casino and 200 room hotel here?

Sorry this post is such a ramble, but I could write a book about the forces at work here.  Read the links and make your own judgements.  I believe the current proposed district is a knee jerk reaction, that while probably a positive in itself, does not adequately address the Reno / UNR connection.  We need to slow down and take a deep breath.





TMWRF – Oh Crap

TMWRFWe have to put 50% of the water we take out of the Truckee River back in.  We do this at TMWRF, the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility.  Waste water is pumped from regional water treatment plants to TMWRF to be cleaned up before it goes back into the river.  The facility has a capacity of 40 MGD (million gallons per day) and is currently running at 27 MGD so there looks like there is some excess capacity.  Not so.

The facility exceeded environmental standards for nitrogen release in 2006, before the levels returned to targeted levels as our population shrank.  The facility again exceeded nitrogen releases in January and February this year and has just been fined $16,000.  The actual capacity of the plant is limited by how much we can clean up the water.  There is an interim nitrogen removal system scheduled to on line in a year that is estimated help an estimated 7%.  By TMWRFs figures, this will accommodate up to 3800 new SFRs.  Right now, there is NO AVAILABLE CAPACITY based on winter nitrogen levels, yet building permits within the service area are being routinely approved.  The improvements required to allow TMWRF to function at its designed capacity are estimated at $40M.

HERE is the TMWRF service area.  If you are interested in the approved subdivisions in the Truckee Meadows, take a look at THIS data from 2006 from the UNR Center for Regional Studies and get ready for your jaw to drop.  Unincorporated Washoe County data is HERE from 2009, though mostly included in the overall numbers.  Water Treatment capacity is not reserved when a subdivision is approved – each house pays for the capacity when the building permit is issued.

Tesla = 22,000 direct and indirect jobs.  7000 new SFRs in the TMWRF service area?  Water isn’t our issue, Waste Water is.  Time to proactively address the issue STAT.

The ‘Sett

boulder –  Toll Brothers have finally released their floor plans for their Boulders project in Somersett.  The plans range from 4000 to 5800 SF with BASE prices from $702K to $904K.  I read somewhere that the base price of a home goes up 30% on average before the sale, so you can see the market they are appealing to.  I’m usually not a fan of Toll floor plans – Xerox enlarged tract houses – but these really do seemed tailored to their target market.



-  On the other end of the economic scale, Lennar has purchased 108 finished lots in the Wintercrest subdivision associated with Somersett.  This is the extension of Scott Vally Road area originally owned by Columbus Reno I LLC.  The sale was combined with 151 lots in Wingfield Springs from the same sale, and the price works out to $72,000 per finished (streets and mass grading done, utilities to the lot line, water and transit fees later at permit) lot.  They should be able to reach the low $300’s price point as they have in their almost completed Canyon Pines project.  Somersetters refer to Canyon Pines as Section 8 Heights, but whatever.

-  The ballots have been mailed to the owners on the proposal for Somersett Owners Association (SOA) to purchase the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC) for $2.75M, then lease it back to SGCC for $2000 per year.  This is a very complicated and emotional deal, and hella fun to watch from the sidelines!  It comes down to this – if you think the SGCC can be successful, vote NO.  Northgate closed, D’Andrea closed, ArrowCreek in bankruptcy – SGCC doesn’t have a prayer as a self standing entity in my opinion.  If you think the SGCC will fail and want to have a say in what becomes of the golf course, vote YES.  It will only cost about $1100 per lot owner spread over 15 years.

SGCC is part of the Somersett Area PUD, but is NOT part of the approved Somersett PUD – it is specifically excluded.  I ran some rough numbers, and the land could easily accommodate 600 SFRs.  At $20,000 per semi-raw lot, SGCC is worth $12M dead, and only $2.75M alive.  Reno would LOVE the addition $2M annual property tax income, and it would be a perfect infill development in an area where all their public service requirements are already in place.  Reno will ratify any PUD modifications that might be required in a New York Minute.  So add that to you menu of issues to consider as you prepare to vote, SOA membership.

-  The “Golf” lot adjacent to the Town Center recently sold for $150,000.  It is zoned for up to 5 storey heights and apartments/condos , though is significantly impinged by drainage easements.  No development plans have been announced by the new owner, but I’ve also taken a detailed look at this property.  12 townhouses, hardcore negotiation on some shameless unrecorded easements for the Canyon 9 golf course pencils.  Or go big and span the drainage easement and aim for 50 units of apartments/condos.  I’ll report back when plans start firming up.

The world isn’t all about Somersett, but I know a lot of the readers of this blog live there and care a lot about what is going on in their community.  So forgive me for boring you with this one, geopower!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186 other followers