Kindling

It seems the final deadline to dibs and relocate the UNR Gateway houses in now 3 June 2019.  Okay Reno Planning, what concessions are you prepared to make to allow some of the remaining old/historic houses to be saved?  There are not many “historically appropriate” lots to move these houses to, and most of them won’t meet the letter of your Codes for setbacks and the dreaded Residential Infill Standards.  SUPs and Variances are not on the table with this demolition time-frame – Administrative action is required.  I try to be positive,  but Reno’s Planning Department will be a co-conspirator in the destruction of these historical resources.

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A Few Updates

  •  The OneR 70 unit apartment project in Midtown (Arroyo and Tonopah) is working its way through the permit and entitlement process.  Seems like it will become reality.
  •  Haskell Row is under construction.  The project will be 22 new market rate 1/1.5 apartments with nice, usable dedicates yards.  The renovation of 8 1-bedroom units at 1060 Haskell by the same owner is underway.
  •  5th and Keystone – The affordable senior housing component has dropped out, so the current plan is  300 units of market rate housing, 45,000 SF of food/retail, and a “signature building that will change the neighborhood”.
  •  The Arroyoplex by Marmot is 10 new 1 bedroom units in the Wells Neighborhood.  Construction has started, and 4 of the units will be handicapped adaptable  in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.
  •  UNR Historic Houses – The Gilbert Humphrey house (finally) was successfully moved to 655 Arlington and is currently being renovated.  I am currently working on the relocation plans for 829 Lake and 820 Center.  821 Center also seems to have a good  fighting chance to escape kindling status.
  •  Why did Greater Nevada Credit Union by the Pink Hill student housing project at  1385 N Virginia for $9.35M?   They had an $8,391,600 loan on the property.   Looks more like a distressed sale, but who knows.  Student housing is recession proof, right?

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.

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?