Greyhound Gone

Greyhound buses to Reno are now docking at the Sparks RTC stop (over Sparks’ objections).  I guess kudos are in order for the Reno Council for throwing up so many objections that the logical location at our RTC City Center location became “undesirable” and Sparks got holding the bag.

1st and Bell in Reno.  Riverfront property next to the ex-Grayhound terminal.  The 4 CLC properties that have been scraped are back in for 4 parcel maps and now 2 townhouse permits.  My best guess is that this will end up as 14 (min allowable) to 16 (max allowable by parcel map) SFR townhouses.   A single onsite parking space is planned for each of the units submitted for permit.  The developer might be well served checking on the sales at Tonopah Lofts and 3×3 Martin.

Looking forward to seeing what Tesla Dad plans for the old Greyhound station.



Just when I go all negative, a SPR (Site Plan Review) sneaked in for 70 units in Midtown.  The oneR midTown project proposes 70 units  (31 Studios, 33 1-bedroom and 6 2-bedroom) at the mostly vacant land at Tonopah/Arroyo/Pueblo most recently used as the staging area for the Tonopah Lofts.  Planning has given this site SPECIAL TREATMENT, and the proposed plan sorta kinda responds to this – it would be interesting to see Planning’s comments, but they generally aren’t published to the community at large on SPRs.  All in all a very nice project will most of the based covered (except parking, which may ultimately unfortunately affect the density).  1st Floor Plan can be gleaned HERE.  Elevations are HERE.  The proposed Landscape Plan by Artemesia (great to see them moving up to commercial projects like Haskell Row) is HERE.

The 5th Keystone 10+ acre development site has the S3 Development sign up, but requests for information on what is planned have not been answered.  I don’t know if S3 plans to purchase the entire site or just a portion.  One piece of the proposed development appears to be 230 units of 50% AGI senior apartments based on THIS filing with the HOMES Consortium.  Nice.  The 3.3 acre parcel referenced does not currently exist, so I can’t pinpoint the exact parcel location.

Is the market tanking?  See the RRB December Market Update.  Year over year “doit” appreciation in an economic boom, Pendings falling.  January 2018 was the  big “up” month that is currently keeping 2018 from being stagnant or negative appreciation.


Time for some predictions!

  • Casino Core – Don’t expect any meaningful improvements.  The Virginian will not finish their exterior improvements and their retail space will not be leased.  The Row and Harrah’s will do diddly squat to improve the exteriors of their properties or to improve the pedestrian experience along Virginia Street.  Baseball has a huge parcel assembled for development, but I can’t see any NEED for additional development around the Freight House.
  • Fountain District – Expect a few more demos and no meaningful construction.  Jacobs may finally deign to reveal their master plan, but they have overpaid and development just won’t pencil.  If Renovo is an example of there ROI, the project is doomed.
  • Keystone I-80 – S3 Development has signs up, but no transactions have been recorded.  What is this site screaming for?  Absolutely nothing, and that is what will end up here.
  • Midtown Commercial – There will continue to be tenant churn as the escalation clauses in the initial 2 year commercial leases kick in (Morgan’s).  RTC construction will continue to be a mess, with the completed street redesign project pleasing no one and looking just like the underwhelming E 4th Street renovation.  Meh.
  • Midtown/Wells – Haskell Row is under construction with 22 rental unit and Arroyotopia will break ground 1st quarter will 10 1-bedroom apartments.  That’s it – do not expect to see any additional rental units to be built in Midtown or West of Wells.  All new development will be for sale product.
  • Daybreak – It will return and be approved at 3500 units or so (1550 units are already approved as Butler Ranch).  5000+ units was just stupidly dense, and I never believed it was a real proposal (unless Flood Plan Andy managed to get it approved!).
  • Reimagine Reno – The slog to codify all the pretty words from the Master Plan will continue to bog down due to a lack of any real regional vision and special interest groups bitching and moaning loudly about any changes.
  • Somersett Retaining Wall Lawsuit – The best place to research it is at Somersett United.  The gist of the suit is that a couple of 3 tier rockery walls failed, but after the construction defect period had expired.  The suit tries to extend the guarantee period based on when the master developer turned over the project to a homeowner’s board of directors.  The HOA suit is costing homeowners a ton ‘o cash monthly, and has a virtually negative chance of success.  The ENTIRE construction industry will pile on in the developer’s defense – an arbitrary extension of construction liability is untenable and most likely not legal.  It will be an interesting case study if the case proceeds, and even more interesting to see when the Somersett HOA cuts off their legal assault.
  • Median Home Price – Currently $377,250 in Reno, and I see $350,000 in January 2020.  Not a crash, just a dive.  It’s already happening if you dig down.  The developers have the unit mix all wrong as they try to maximize profits.  There are WAY to may $750,000 stucco shit boxes chasing way to few RICCOHs (RIch Californians Coming Over the Hill).

You might get the idea that I’m a little negative on the Reno market right now!

Mini Storage

The Root of All Evil?  Probably, though perhaps only a symptom.  When Toll Brothers and all the other production builders standardize on 20×20′ (or smaller, code minimum is 18×19′) garages without room to hang a rake or locate your 2 Waste Management bins or store your Christmas ornaments, you either hire a dumpster and downsize your crap once and for all or rent a storage unit where your crap can reside for all time raking up monthly fees that exceed the $/SF of most apartments.

Reno/Sparks/Washoe will add something like 3000 new housing units this year including apartments, and over 10,000 mini storage units.  Mini Storage used to be land use that happened in the wastelands on the far outskirts of town.  Now it is viable even at Park Lane.

233 Court Street

Don’t recognize the address?  It is the vacant lots surrounding the Park Tower condos at 280 Island.  It was once proposed to be the site of the Wingfield Towers condominium project, one of the most ambitious in Reno history.  Downtown Makeover has an interesting project summary on their Post Mortem page HERE.  I’m not sure the link to the fly through (“if you have high-speed internet” – a lot has changed over the last decade!) still works, but HERE it is on YouTube.

And if you order by midnight tonight, the development opportunity could be yours for just $9,498,000 or 4 low monthly payments of $2.5M.

The last decade has been a series of contentious lawsuits reaching the Nevada Supreme Court over some very interesting minutia all architects should be interested in regarding lien laws.  (start HERE and work backward on the Recorder’s site if you are interested).

Is is just me, or was the proposed Wingfield Towers a really beautiful looking project?

Dueling Entertainment Districts

The Freight House District appears to be waking from the dead.  It was our original “entertainment district” which for many reasons became un-entertaining.  The related owners recently purchased APNs 011-074-07, 08, 12, and 13 for $2.4M.  I’m sure these were tied up earlier for less during the original Freight House Fenzy, and I’d love to be Chaves right now!

Does Reno need an “entertainment district” at all?  Do we need 2 with whatever Jacobs is planning for the Fountainhead District on W 4th Street?  Will they compete for excellence, or grovel to the lowest common denominator?  Bubba
Gump’s Shrimp Company, table for 5?

It’s been a long time since I’ve even thought about it, but I believe the Freight House is still in a STAR Bond District, eligible for up to a 75% reduction in property taxes.  Fountain District is not a STAR district, and has so far not (publicly) asked for TIF (tax incremental financing, reduced property taxes in lieu of public improvements) to reduce their tax burdens.  I sorta don’t think they will given how they have operated so far.  As much as I dislike some of Jacob’s tactics, I sort of appreciate their development approach so far, even when I diss them.

So Jacobs, how is that Spring of 2018 unveiling of your Fountain District plans coming along?  Will competition get you to the megaphone?

“Argos for $600,000, Alex”

Argos aka Meridian 120 South just closed their first production home.  9040 Boomtown Garson sold for $610,066 or $216/AF, apparently as an investment property.  Bates Stringer has sold 2 of their model homes with lease-back agreements for an average of $903,978 or $265/SF.

–  Ryder has started closing their production homes at the Pointy in Somersett.  There have been 4 completed sales so far with an average price of $633,730 or $245/SF.

– D R Horton has yet to close a house at The Estates at West Meadows, but they seem to be aiming for this same price point, and are building as fast as lumber can be harvested in Canada.

Pine Bluff in Caughlin Ranch by Homecrafters is selling as fast as they can build them.  The 8 closings so far average $975,100 or $312/SF.  Larger lots than the other projects.

– Toll Brothers haven’t started marketing their 165 unit Landslides Cliffs project in Somersett yet, but it is priced from $598,000.  I’ve seen the plans, and don’t expect to see any sales south of $1M.  Is the market for gauche homes going to be large enough?

As a general rule of thumb, you can add at least 30% to the base price of a production home to get to a real sales price. There is ALWAYS a “lot premium” and niceties like toilet paper holders and towel bars in the bathrooms can be an extra – no joking.  Approximately 30% of Reno residents can afford a home at the current median price of +/- $375,000.  Maybe 10% can afford these new Californicated monsters?  I do not aspire to be able to buy a $750,000 home 5′ from my neighbor’s $750,000 home with mirrored plans looking into each others bathrooms, and no way to build a pathway to my backyard without disrupting site drainage.  And I never expected to be looking UP at an Interstate Highway in my (code minimum) back yard, at any price point.



……So Close to Hell You Can See Reno.”

While Reno continues to struggle to attract any meaningful Downtown housing development, Sparks has managed to get 1670 units underway with more planned.  Why? And why isn’t Reno more effective realizing their Master Plan objectives?

  • They have proactively and constructively worked with the development community to achieve their Master Plan goals.
  • Sparks is a known quantity for developers – they stick to their codes and agreements.
  • Sparks is closer to the center of gravity of regional job growth – TRIC.
  • Old redevelopment mistakes left Sparks with land to develop. Reno has it’s own legacy of redevelopment mistakes, but not the legacy of resulting desirable properties.  And what Reno has is tossed away.
  • Comment from a Sparks developer:  “Though we had enjoyed a long and continuous relationship starting in 1995, we have simply found the Reno Council methods of operation to be too difficult to pursue redevelopment in Reno’s downtown without assuming much higher risks than typical in the business. Missing the timing of this current economic cycle to initiate this objective is certainly unfortunate for everyone that makes NNV their home.”

Here are the current 873 units surrounding Victorian Square:

  • Fountainhouse – 220 + 18 units = 238.
  • Bridges – 194 unit.
  • Square One – 100 units.
  • Deco – 209 units (could Reno’s Parking Galleria do this?).
  • Atrium – 132 units.
  • The Future Development in the center is the Promenade – specifics to follow soon.

Just 2 mile to the East at Sparks Marina, another 797 (maybe more) are under construction:

Lyfe – 280 units.

Azure – 308+ units.

Waterfront – 209 units.





Reno’s twerpy kid brother has grown up and is turning into Prince Harry instead of Wills.  Well played!

Reno Gateway Business Park

LCD18-00065 Reno Gateway Business Park will be heard by the Reno Planning Commission at 6 PM Wednesday evening.  It is a Washoe project but withing the Reno SOI.  It is requesting cuts and fills over the standard limit in order to construct 100,000+ SF on mini-storage and 344,000 SF of 40’+ high logistic space (frankenwarehouse).  Here is a MAP with the warehouse buildings sketched in.

The Staff Report is missing a complete Exhibit 1 purported to show the visual impacts from the Scenic Overlook / Historic Markers / Truck pull out heading eastbound.  A Traffic Study is referenced, but not attached to this Staff Report.  These factors alone should result in a continuance, but that can’t be guaranteed.

Have any one of you not almost rear ended a vehicle entering I-80 eastbound at the blind uphill Mogul on ramp, or almost been rear ended yourself by trying to make room for merging traffic?  This proposal would add a significant volume of slow accelerating semi trailers to the already dangerous condition.  Westbound is even worse.  There is not an NDOT report in this Staff Report.

This is a weird project based on the jurisdiction, SOI, and the developer’s earlier attempt to exclude Reno from the approval process.  But it is a really bad project that will exacerbate already dangerous freeway conditions.  Raise your voices!

Park Lane Planning

A building permit for a 5 storey parking garage has been filed for the Park Lane project on APN 015-220-65.  That’s a bit NW of the existing theater   identified as 1A.  The original plan indicated 202 units, and the RGJ story mentions 227 units on the 3.524 acre site, for a density of 64 units per acre.

Park Lane is part of the MUSV South Virginia Transit Oriented Development overlay.  In the North District (South District starts at Moana) and not in Midtown which generally ends at Mount Rose.  It should be noted that Reno Zoning is PARCEL based, not PROJECT based unless there is a PUD or SUP in place.  Unless I’m missing something, Park Lane has neither.

So what is allowed to be built here under current Zoning and Development Code?  MU has some setback requirements, but no height or density restrictions unless modified by the adoption of a Specific Plan (like MUSV). Parcels fronting on S Virginia Street have some minimum setback and density standards, but no maximum density or height restrictions (unless the FAA disapproves).  Parcels not “adjacent” to SVA have a MAXIMUM density of MF30.  Code excerpt:

f. Density and Intensity.
The minimum residential density, on parcels located adjacent to South Virginia
Street, shall be 18 dwelling units per acre. The maximum density on parcels that
are not located adjacent to South Virginia Street and not located within the
Midtown District shall be 30 dwelling units per acre.

Uh Oh.  The parcel under development is certainly not adjacent to Virginia Street by any eyeball or by Code definition.  In fact, the permit assigns it a 0 Plumb Lane address.  It is allowed 105 units by right with unlimited height, and over 200 units are proposed.

Reno Planning has a very rigorous and linear approval process which has bitten me in the butt more times than I can recount.  Their requirements are generally arcane and on first (and second and third) review quite incomprehensible.  Yet I and my clients comply with Planning’s set process, even when it makes no sense.  I understand that a NO is easier to deal with than a YES that has to be justified, it is just frustrating.  Planning is all about their process and details of their own process.  It will be interesting to see how they deal with a much higher level planning issue than I usually deal with in a politically charged arena.

I think I know how the story ends.