City approves downtown condemnation powers

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Carson City redevelopment officials likely will start looking for downtown sites in need of improvement as they prepare to test their new power to condemn property.

On Thursday, city supervisors approved new rules giving the city's Redevelopment Authority the power to condemn property in the redevelopment district based on a set of criteria. Supervisor Richard Staub abstained from the 4-0 vote.

Mayor Ray Masayko suggested Thursday redevelopment leaders begin making a list of "underpreforming properties" and begin talking with their property owners before the authority considers taking property.

Masayko pointed out years ago, the authority set aside incentive money to improve both the Golden Spike and the Lucky Spur. The Spike is now the Washington Street Station and the Spur remains as it was, but Masayko said at least the offering was a notice of the authority's opinions regarding the sites.

"We don't want to do a de facto condemnation without giving them an opportunity to act on their own behalf," he said.

Rob Joiner, city economic development/redevelopment manager, said he and redevelopment citizen committee members would start identifying properties which could be improved and begin getting ideas from their owners on potential upgrades.

City leaders decided to change the authority's rules to allow the redevelopment authority more power to clean up downtown. In December, a change to the rules was delayed after city leaders decided the proposal had too powerful an ability to strip away private property rights.

The resolution was rewritten with an eye more toward protecting existing businesses in the district. Under the new rules, property owners whose businesses may be threatened with condemnation will be asked multiple times to participate in redevelopment.

The ordinance is needed because the 1986 redevelopment plan didn't have rules of participation, and without them, downtown condemnation could be easily challenged in court, proponents said.

Generally, the redevelopment authority prefers to offer businesses monetary incentives to improve. The authority offers 20 percent of a project up to $100,000 as an incentive to redevelop in the district, a program which has seen improvements to the area where Red's Old 395 Grill sits.

But officials argue after years of doling out dollars, some properties downtown are still creating a blight on the community and benefit from increasing property values while failing to improve their own property. Redevelopment officials argue the more powerful tool is needed to continue to clean up downtown and make it business and pedestrian friendly.


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