Dear Community Development Department:

I am applying to you for a minor, low impact infill project that would really help me out with my housing crisis.  I would like to drop a 8×12′ Tuff Shed in my back yard and use it as a sleeping unit for Granny, who has come to live with me.  I will give her a key so she can use the bathroom in the main house and maybe use the kitchen – think of it as a “community center”!  Her room will have as much insulation as we can install even though it won’t be up to your adopted code minimums.  We will string and orange cord out there so she can have a few outlets and watch her soaps, run a heater and plug in a fan.  I know NRS prohibits electrical resistance as a primary heat source in a residence, but this isn’t really a residence, right?  RIGHT?

Hope Springs is the proposed 30 unit “mobile units on skids” project proposed for 400 E 4th Street, directly east of the 200+ unit Cells on Sage project.  The full application for the Special Use Permit is HERE, and the better graphics of what is proposed is HERE.  It will be constructed under a 3 year lease on City owned property and include a 3000 SF permanent Community Center that included restrooms and showers for the residents, as well as as “homeless food services” that could extend services to beyond the actual residents.

I’m all about finding solutions for our homeless/under homed population, and am acutely aware of the magnitude of the issues.  I am also acutely aware of the building code and planning requirements that drive up the costs of code complying workforce, “missing middle”, and even market rate housing.  Are we ready to loosen the codes for all construction and not just politically correct projects?  I really hope not, and adamantly believe that Hope Springs needs to meet IBC (International Building Code) standards.  Then best of luck with the project.

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New Home Sales

greyhoundSo far in 2019 closings, the median recorded price for a new single family home in Washoe County is $645,000.  I sorted for houses built 2017-2019, and the actual median home was a resale one-off.  Lowest was 1219 Lander at $325,000.  Does this seem normal and sustainable to you?

Reno Gateway Jimmy John’s

Reno City Council will be considering an over the transom offer from UNR to purchase 705 N Virginia Street tomorrow.  Reno purchased the former Savoy Motor Lodge site for $710,000  for their undefined planned “gateway” project back in 2007 after a deadly fire.  It has been vacant ever since, though Reno did demo the charred remains.

UNR wants the site so that they can build a new Jimmy John’s.  A little thing like a lease is stalling their purchase of JJs current building on 9th Street.  Reno has been having discussions the ROW folks about trading their lots directly to the north for the parking lot at 3rd and Sierra, creating a larger salable parcel for the City (student friggin housing).

My first impression was a gag response, but I’m seriously warming up to the proposed deal.  The ROW does a nice job maintaining their occasionally hobo infested lots as sort of an urban gateway park, and what say “University Gateway” better than a Jimmy John’s?

Citicenter – Unraveling a $6.6M Boner

Council will be considering issuing a Request for Interest this week, seeking both laic and divine guidance on what to do with the old Citicenter RTC station downtown that Reno purchased for $6.6M.  The site is a bit over an acre, and can be increased a bit.  Proposals can be for reuse of the existing ’80’s structures, additional infill, or scrape and start from scratch.  Reno has absolutely no clue how to dig themselves out of the fiscal hole they dug when the bought this hot mess, a unicorn-hugging mission statement on what they want to accomplish, and no money to partner up.

Scrape it is the only possible scenario that makes sense (though the North Pavilion can be the Charles McNeely Museum of Civic Suicide in the interim).  I can already feel a certain Councilperson needing to visit a urologist when this “urban forest” is lost.  The winner is going to be whoever can cram the greatest number of most subsidized dwelling unit as possible onto the site, which is sad and short-sighted if downtown Reno is ever going to become DOWNTOWN RENO again.

So what are your ideas?  What would make the “difference” that would pass muster with the Council, benefit our downtown, and make fiscal sense?  My dance card is open and I can partner up with anyone who has the BIG IDEA to save downtown!

That great sucking sound you hear next door is the Ballroom bleeding cash – it needs its own RFI pronto.  And have any of you ever been to an event at the Event Center?  There current bookings look historically low (though hearing Dierks live singing Drunk on a Plane might get me in a seat!).

Seriously, ideas?  What would make downtown great or at least not so sucky?

Rancharrah Dirt for $24,000,000

I just don’t get the Rancharrah project.  1/4 acre custom home lots that would even bore D R Horton are selling for half a mil.  Toll Trash homes in Villages 1 and 2 are listed at $1M++.  And now a 12 acre +/- Multifamily development parcel at Village 7 is listed for sale at $24,000,000.  2 friggin’ million dollars per acre for dirt.

The sales brochure claims “almost unlimited density” and MF30 but the PUD says otherwise – 21.2 unit per acre maximum.  That’s $95K per allowable unit for dirt to build a nicey-nicey Pacific West type of garden apartment – the same model being used for the HOME subsidized Vintage at Summit Ridge project.

This is 5X what any sane developer would pay.  Is the Rancharrah brand’s glow really that strong and I’m missing something?

January Median Preview

I have my own methodology to see how the median is trending during the month.  Based on Assessor’s data, I screen out new homes that were on the MLS, foreclosure sales, and anything but SFRs.  It isn’t perfect, but it tracks the trends and “official” median statistics reported by RRB pulled off the MLS pretty closely.  The Assessor is a lagging reporting indicator since it can take a sale up to 2 weeks to show up after recording, but probably at least 40%+ of what will be January sales have posted.

RRB Medians – November 2018 $377,000, December 2018 $360,000.

Mikey Medians – November 2018 $375,000, December 2018 $355,000, January 2019 to date $337,000.  That will represent another 5% month over month decline in the median if the trend holds.

Guy at RRB says he is tracking a decline in median for January, but not as severe as what I am seeing.  But he also reports that unit sales are tanking and will be near historic lows when the January numbers are finalized.

My prediction of a 10% decline in median for 2019 got picked up by another blog.  Their 20% guesstimate seems more realistic than mine given the trends.  Or maybe Armageddon II.

Sparks Outdoor Events Center

The first Site Permit for the new Nugget outdoor events center at Victorian Square was submitted today, and WOW!  8958 seats, similar to the Laughlin Event Center (pictured).  Brings back great memories of concerts at the old MGM Grand / GSR.

For reference, Greater Nevada Field has about 6500 fixed seats and a 9100 total occupancy maximum. I’m sure if we ask nicely, they will add a fountain or two to their plans!

Does an urban outdoor venue of this magnitude become a dead zone on off nights?  I worry about that a lot based on the Aces failure to make the Freight House District something that works 365.

Kudos to Marnell Gaming and the City of Sparks for actually DOING something. Meanwhile back in Reno, the City Council will be hearing appeals about tree removals and a proposal to allow homeless services deeper into the community this week.

Serious question here.  Can can anyone explain to me why Reno is so constantly off-message and Sparks gets things done?

Baiting the Bantering Bear

Whassup, Bear?  You called the bottom back in 2006 or so on RRB before anyone foresaw how dire things would actually get.  Your only error was not going more negative.

I had a reader today say “the music has stopped, but they don’t know they need to take a chair”.   I believe that.  The True Believers are in for an ass whooping.   Look for Student Housing to lead the downward spiral.

BB. this is your chance to post your Manifesto.  I hope it generates some serious discussion!

Big Yellow Taxi

Jacobs continues to add Open Parking Lots as a primary use in their Fountain District.  Open Parking Lot is an allowable land use in DRRC Keystone, but why add more?  What is this additional parking (200 or so spaces) supporting or serving?

Jacobs Parking #1 is along 4th Street. The PERMIT claimed 37,584 SF and the Assessor says 38,390 SF so that’s pretty close.  Permit value was $140,000 for 104 parking spaces.  That is an absolute bullshit valuation considering the grading, abandonment and reconstruction of curb gutter and sidewalk, lighting and landscape that will be required.  Or if not, let me know your contractor!

Jacobs Parking #2 just got FILED.  They claim 35,000 SF but the parcels total 41,206 SF – not so close this time.  $208,380 permit value for around an additional 100 surface parking spaces.

Open Parking Lots are expensive to build – you don’t build them as a temporary use.  I would suspect that Jacobs does not plan to develop these parcels in a meaningful way for at lease 5 years.  And not a fountain in sight on the permits.