There can’t be an urban redevelopment buzz kill worse than the 100 block of North Virginia Street. This connection between the tourist casino core to the river walk district has become an abandoned waste land. But sometimes an area gets so bad that it gets good again. Let’s do a tour.
101 NVA is the old Woolworth’s building. Flooded out in 1997, it has been closed ever since. Jeff Frame has produced a really compelling design to re-skin the building for office use. I have personally reviewed an ongoing proposal to convert the building into urban hipster apartments over retail.
Next door is 119 NVA, owned by the same folks who own 101. Good Luck, Macbeth rented this space, but has recently relocated to Midtown and Carterville. The building is historic, so is off the redevelopment platter.
133 is the Nevadan Hotel tower owned by the Cal Neva. It is so dated that the Cal Neva books their high rollers into the Siena. But I hear that the Cal Neva is gifting the building to UNR, and it will be used for the Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship programs. Maybe some grad housing. Microsoft is heavily involved with these programs at UNR, so I don’t think the recent PR blitz hyping the contributions of Microsoft Licensing to Reno is a coincidence. Maybe an incubator and Windows 8 training facility thrown into the mix?
165 is a vacant building owned by the good doctor John Iliescu, who technically owns the adjacent building at 195 NVA at the corner of 2nd. There was activity at 195 a couple of years ago to preserve a bar license on the second floor and beat the downtown moratorium, but I don’t recall how that turned out.
140 is the Virginian Hotel and Casino. The Cal Neva used to rent this building (owned by Best Gaming as agent for the French gaming conglomerate Partouche), but the rental and option to purchase agreement terminated in October 2004, and the hotel has been closed ever since. But if the Cal Neva is giving up the Virginian, would they be interested in reopening the Virginian?
The rest of the block is the Cal Neva, who needs to get rid of their 1970′s Bonanza Sirloin Pit red ceramic tile facade, but that’s another discussion. Think huge LED displays for $4.99 steak and eggs! There is actually a pretty cool looking historic building under all that froo-froo.
Bracketing this block are the proposed renovations to the Historic Post Office, and now permitted renovations to the Property Formerly Known As CommRow.
I’m not a Pollyanna and take a pretty realistic view of downtown. But the dominoes are all set up for the 100 block of North Virginia to become totally transformed from the wasteland it is today into a vibrant business center. And it will happen rapidly.