More comments sought on economic growth

City leaders want to hear more Wednesday about what residents and business owners want to do to encourage economic growth in Carson City's historic downtown district.

A second public discussion will take place during a meeting of the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee at City Hall.

A plan is being formed by redevelopment officials who are exploring the idea of mixing different types of neighborhood businesses and multi-story buildings throughout the residential and commercial area to encourage more people to live and walk in downtown.

More than 30 residents and property owners attended the first of several meetings on the topic Nov. 5. Ideas were tossed around dealing with street lighting, building heights, business opportunities and sidewalks.

"The goal is to make our redevelopment district the model for what downtown redevelopment is in the region," said Economic Development and Redevelopment Manager Joe McCarthy.

Officials expect opportunities like the state's plan to build office buildings on Stewart Street near the Department of Transportation will bring hundreds of workers into downtown to shop, eat, and live.

"There will be more people living here, shopping, and more street life," McCarthy told the group. "That's the positive - and also the negative."

The mix of traffic through downtown is expected to change by 2010, when the Carson City freeway is scheduled to be completed. Carson-Tahoe Hospital's campus will also soon be vacant and become an opportunity for development.

City Supervisor Robin Williamson, chairwoman of the citizens committee and redevelopment board, is working with McCarthy to engage the public in discussions. She said she promises to have a plan that addresses downtown development by the time her term is up in three years.

Williamson said she is open to any discussions. Some concerns surfaced Wednesday about restricting building heights in residential neighborhoods, locating businesses next to residences, and the availability of parking.

Currently, commercial business is allowed between Carson and Curry streets and the east side of Nevada Street. Professional offices create a buffer zone between Nevada Street and the residential neighborhoods.

The redevelopment agency has set aside funds to build a parking garage downtown, but hasn't found an affordable spot, Williamson said. One solution might be to partner with another business.

Even so, Williamson said she would like the city to offer an interesting enough mix of businesses that people could park then walk to their destination while stopping to browse in shops or have a cup of coffee.

"That's the way I want it to be," she said. "As you walk, you'll be happy because everything will be interesting."


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