Train Trench.  Fitz Garage.  Downtown Events Center.  Downtown Ballroom.  Aces Ballpark.  West Street Market.  RTC Bus Station.  Mapes Plaza.  Aiazzi State Park.  Reno City Council / Redevelopment Agency doesn’t have a sterling record picking winners.

It was announced today that Reno is in contract to by the downtown Post Office from the USPS.  This isn’t a new deal – Reno has been Jonesing over the PO site for decades, and their last attempt to by the site fell apart in 2009.  DTM has great coverage of those plans.  The RDA thankfully ran out of money and couldn’t complete the $6.1M purchase.  Their due diligence process at the time discovered that the PO was the walking dead – hazardous materials, structural deficiencies, a mechanical system literally held together with duct tape, and whispered about toxic soil conditions.

In a town where Archie’s rates as an architectural landmark, the downtown PO really is something special.  RGJ has a nice photo essay on it, and Google “Reno post office” and click on Images for some other really cool shots.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it almost impossible to demolish or significantly alter the exterior.

Back in 2009, the USPS was being begged to sell the property to Reno.  This time, they appear to first to the table.  They ain’t stupid – they read the due diligence reports and recognized what an albatross the PO really is.  Smart move to “gift” it to the greater fool.

What does Reno want the PO for?  I haven’t a clue at this point, and I suspect Reno doesn’t either.  Nothing pencils there given the renovation costs without huge subsidies.  If it worked, the private sector would have been all over this.

This story is just breaking, the financials haven’t been released yet, and Reno hasn’t come forward with any plans for the site except saying that there will be massive public meetings.  If Reno is planning to only be a caretaker for the property until a “real” developer can be found, I might be able to be convinced that the purchase makes sense.

The historic PO building is in no real danger – its protected.  Reno has a dismal (criminal?) record on redevelopment projects.  Where is the private sector on all this?

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