Urban Density

Reno is all about it until it is proposed and then they are not.  It is a ReImagine Reno Master Plan policy NOT to subdivide existing lots, yet maximum density is achieved on the smallest of lots.  In the Wells CC zoning district, a typical 7000 SF lot will yield a maximum of 5 1-bedroom units based on parking and trash enclosure requirements.  2 smaller lots can harvest 7 1-bedroom units and be parked to code. (MF30 zoning would allow 4 under current code).




Not so bad, 7 1-bedroom units.  An early duplex proposal for this site garnered a comment from planning that “this is EXACTLY what we don’t want to see in the Wells District”).

We in the planning and design industry need to stop getting the mixed messages of what Reno “wants”.  The current proposed Planning Code Update does not do enough to provide direction and in many cases will further stymie urban infill development.

Homeless “Super Shelter” Proposed

In her editorial in the RGJ, Councilperson Jardon let slip that Reno is in negotiations with the State of Nevada to purchase the Governor’s Bowl Park for a for a 7.43 acre “super shelter” for the homeless/unhoused.  In not unrelated news, the adjacent property owner is suing the City of Reno to stop a proposed (under construction) “temporary” big top tent city shelter on TMWA property in front of his holdings.

Good for you Mr. Peterson!  Reno trying to justify their illegal land use activities under the guise of “emergency powers” is specious at best given their call for “transparency” in all dealings.

Verdi Executive Boat and RV Storage

Hey, the UMVs (Unwashed Masses of Verdi) look like they will get “executive” RV storage!  The Special Use Permit application for the 641 covered unit Verdi Boat and RV Storage is currently under review.  It is located just West of Gold Ranch and will include over 386,000 SF of open, covered storage spaces.

Sometimes you just hold your nose and come out in favor of or at least not against a project.  There is no sewer this far out west, so there isn’t much of a prospect for other types of development.  Maybe the competition will force Witt Storage to reconsider their proposed 499 unit facility (500 would trigger a Special Use Permit) on Somersett Ridge Parkway where public services and infrastructure exist and consider a more appropriate land use.

Development Code Update

Reno has been working on updating its 1200+ page Annexation and Development Code for a couple of years now.  The Final Draft has just been issued, and the targeted adopting date by Council is 9 December.  The best place to learn about the Update is HERE.   Start by downloading Summary of New Code Amendments before you start wading through the 676 of new and improved code.

I do not mean to diminish all the hard work that has been put in to get us to this final draft.  It is a very political process with lots of compromise involved.  Some early take-aways:

  •  It will be much easier now to discover the ways Reno will quash your development.
  •  How much did we pay to cop the graphics and format from Sparks?
  •  Sustainability – I’m sure there was a group hug over this section, but scoring each project on a points system is a logistical nightmare.  Who will be the Arbiter of Sustainability?  Points can be awarded by each view station (Planning, Building, Engineering, and maybe even Health) and are awarded across permits that are submitted separately (sprinkler and irrigation comes to mind).
  • Suburban Parkageddon –  I’m the ultimate free-market parking guy for housing, but only in dense/walkable neighborhoods and where public transportation and street parking is available.  The proposed citywide standard of 1 parking space per unit will be catastrophic in outlying areas without public transportation or streets.  The proposed Bluffs Apartments next to Boomtown currently requires 470 parking spaces for its 243 units.  The new standard is 243, a 48% reduction.
  •  Why will the Wells District have the highest required parking residential parking requirement in the entire City of Reno?
  •  Why are multifamily units up to 4-plexes required to have separate utility metering?  We do that when it makes sense, but usually not for TMWA water.
  • Bonus Density Credits for small units!  99% of urban infill units are “small” – why not just increase the base zoning?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positive changes in the proposed code update.  I’m posting this because the readers of this wee Blog are interested in Real Estate, but may not be aware of how the proposed code affects their neighborhoods or their assets.  It is last call to get your concerns heard.

2238 Prater Way

2238 Prater is one of my projects.  It was a quick riff on 1701 H Street using the same team and basic design to create permit ready documents for an 8-plex in less that 2 weeks for less than $10,000.

Listed for $950,000 and in contract after 3 days, noting that rents are $300 below market at $675/month.  That is probably an underestimation.

I am proud of this project because I am proud of the original developer’s personal commitment to provide clean, cheap, shiny and new (with ugly colors!) housing and maintain the affordable pricing over the last few years when he could have been sucking the tenants dry and master leasing to Tesla to maximize profits.  I don’t know why 2238 Prater has been singled out to drop out of his portfolio, but am sure the original mission will be lost on the new buyer.

Building and continuing rent at affordable levels is not code required, not currently regulated in any way, and no normal developer will do that without government subsidies.  It takes personal commitment to do this.  So cheers to By Sprenger for the good you have accomplished for the community!

Park Lane Pivots

After a couple year’s absence, Park Lane has updated their Web Site.

450 or so units are gone replace by the Tech Campus, 320,000 SF of office space in 4 buildings.  Meh, we are all working from home now and this is just the latest desperate act to save the project.  Is anyone clamoring for new office space at “market” rents?   Still, 800 or so upscale rental units to hit the market in 2021 which will destabilize the rental market.


Suspended Animation – Reno Market Report

So where are we?

– SFR sales are down, inventory down, median price steady.

– Multifamily sales are non existent, and offers have not closed.

– Commercial sales are non existent, and offers have been withdrawn.

Witching Hours:

    • 15 July – 2019 taxes due, as well as Q1 as Q2 quarterlies.  How many people deferred tax payment to make mortgage/ rent and will now be “owned” by the Government?
    • 1 August – Hiatus on collections expires.  What is the NOD level going to be?  I haven’t seen any specific data on late payments, but I do have confirmation on a significant increase in BPOs (Broker Price Opinions) from the lenders which suggest oh-uh.

Everyone is trying to feel normal right now, but it’s just not.  We are in inning 3.


Development is a Contact Sport

 San Lucas – 676 +/- units just west of Sierra Canyon/Somersett.  Reject unanimously by Reno’s Planning Commission and also on appeal to Reno City Council.  So it’s getting egal now with Reno and Stan Lucas both filing opening salvos.  The Planning Commission and Council both overturned Planning Staff’s recommendations.  Councilperson Jardon got vinctive which is out of character for her, and will be used against COR in the legal case.  This one has a good chance of being overturned by the courts.  Be that as it may, the project sucks.

  •  Lakeridge (former) Tennis Club –  Originally a zoning amendment to remove dated time share designations, Reno Land floated a proposal to save part of the club and build 200 new housing units for “upscale professionals”.  The motive was  very clear at the time – nuke Lakeridge – but Council bought off on it (as they should have, but don’t act shocked now Duerr).  The current proposal is for 300+ Active Senior Apartments and the tennis club is 70% demolished already base on a drive-by yesterday.  The SPR (Site Plan Review – Project Info/Attachments) was protested to the Hearing Examiner and was heard on 16 June 2020.  The results have not been released (I’ve viewed the video but the page has been moved), but whatever they are they will be appealed to Council and the submitted for judicial review.


  • Meridian 120 S – FINALLY approved by Council based on appeals by the UMVs (Unwashed Massed of Verdi), now heading for judicial review.  DOA in my opinion.

Why is every development project now a legal issue?


Stan Lucas sends request/demand for rehearing to Council, and it is agnedized for 22 July 2020.  I think it will be swatted away, but who knows?

Doc 1

Doc 2

Doc 3

The Future of MGOD

If you missed it, the 2 year struggle to approve the Meridian 120 S Villages 1-6 came to and end last week, with the City Council approving all of the requested Special Use Permits.  Meridian 120 S is part of the MGOD (Mortensen Garson Overlay District Area 3 along with the much larger proposed Santerra 1000 unit development.  Planning Area 1 is the 676 Unit Stan Lucas project adjacent to Somersett/Sierra Canyon that was recently rejected by the Council, but expect to see it return in some form or fashion in the near future.

Planning Area 2 of MGOD is Boomtown – the areas north of I-80 and south of the river.  880,000 SF of Frankenwarehouses have been built and successfully leased.  The Meridian 120 S residential project by Bates Stringer (Argos/Quest) has received tepid at best market acceptance, the Phase 2 is being marketed for sale.  But all seemed calm in the rest of Planning Area 2 until Boomtown filed an application  for Verdi Crossing, 20,000 SF of food/retail/office surrounding the existing Chevron station plus a 7500 SF casino.  The application states that the 26 acre truck stop site will not be utilized as a truck stop, and the gaming license will be transferred to the new facility.

While the focus has been on residential zoned projects in Planning Areas 1 and 3, the commercially zoned properties in Planning Area 2 of the most concern now that Boomtown is changing their development plans.  There can be about 75 acres of property zoned CC available to develop (excluding Verdi Crossing, including Boomtown, excess Cabela’s land, and Boomtown proper).  These lands can all be developed BY RIGHT to CC standards, which include unlimited residential density and 65′ maximum heights.

A standard 3 storey walk-up garden apartment complex maxes out at around 30 units per acre, allowing 2150 new units.  At the same density as Park Lane, maybe 3500 units would be possible.  I could easily bump density to 4000-5000 units by maximizing the allowable site improvements.  At the low end, development of the “Commercial” zoned properties (HC can be converted to AC by right) around Boomtown could at least DOUBLE the conceived allowable unit cap for MGOD by 100%.  Maybe double that.

We all took our eyes off the ball with the Meridian 120 S distractions, and assumed Boomtown and Planning Area 2 were stable.  They are not.

Amending MGOD