Perhaps for all the wrong reasons, UNR has managed to preserve an extraordinary catalog of historic homes in their Gateway District.  Not just historic because they are old, but for their architectural character and quality (don’t get me started on the issues of “context”!).  They are currently in the RFP process to sell them off to the highest bidder ($1) if the buyers will move them.  UNR “needs” the land for campus expansion.

UNR may need land, but do they really need THIS land (the Center Street properties)?  It is the most constrained and difficult to develop of all their Gateway properties.  Reno has the land UNR wants – Evans Park and an abandoned Lake Street.  Is it impossible to imagine a land swap that would be a win win situation for all parties involved, including the potential bidders vying to relocate and restore the houses?  Reno has just shown they are flexible and open to establishing Land Trusts, and this might be a perfect time to use one.

I am 100% behind the university and their right to use their land as they see fit.  But this is a case where much better solutions exist than a simple clear cutting of their properties.  In reality, many of the threaten homes simply can’t be relocated – they are too large to move on our city streets.  The arborectomy required to move the ones that can be relocated will be tragic.  I feel the costs associated with relocation would be much better spent on renovation in situ.

Now let’s dream really big.  There are still the Lake Street properties that do need to be relocated.  Why not to the adjoining 8th Street frontage?  Now we are talking about a real Gateway to the university!  Two property owners would have to play nice.  Bajwa Properties owns the Coed Motel, and Ross Rentals owns the apartment building just north.  The City has a certain amount of “leverage” with Bajwa, and Ross Rentals is one of the most civic-minded owns in Reno.

It is very late, but perhaps not too late.

Edit with comments:

No one has ever looked at UNRs Gateway properties as a development opportunity – that’s what Reno can bring to the table. The land swap for Part or all of Evans Park (do we really need a bocce ball park in the middle of a university?) could be epic. It should definitely be university supporting commercial and retail service – including some housing would be a Bonus Jack and Fries. I don’t know where you all went to college, but have you ever seen a more pathetic excuse of a university commercial core?

UNR has been buying up the last pieces of the Gateway for $100/SF. Capstone Collegiate Communities (CCC) is buying the assemblage at Bibo’s for $80/SF. If you imagine a straight SF trade of UNRs Gateway holdings on Center with the W half of
Reno’s Evans Park, university could be getting an additional 38,000 SF. At $80/SF, that’s worth $3M. That would be enough to buy out the Coed (I value it at $1,064,000 based on recent better hobotel listings) and Ross Rentals ($900,000 by my calcs, though Roberta may differ). There is enough in the equation to have UNR PAY for the relocation of the Lake Street properties into the Old Town District and they would still come out ahead.

Someone needs to step up to the plate and get this started with the City before it is too late.  Daytwa?  Alicia?  Jenny?

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