Carson City planners to consider mixed uses in downtown area

In a case of "two steps forward, one step back," Carson City is considering allowing residential projects in the downtown commercial areas after restricting them just a year ago.

Planning commissioners will consider Thursday whether to support allowing downtown property owners to build single-family homes, apartments, condos or a project that would include a home and office in the same building. It's the first step in encouraging mixed uses in the downtown core, officials said Tuesday.

If approved, the change in city ordinance would be forwarded to supervisors next month. The proposal was approved by the city's Historic Resources Commission and Redevelopment Commission boards last week.

"Certainly, it makes moving forward with mixed-use projects more simple," said Economic Development and Redevelopment Manager Joe McCarthy.

Redevelopment officials have met several times with residents to discuss changing the landscape of the city's historic district to encourage more people to live, shop, work and dine downtown.

Downtown zoning allows developers to build residential projects in the core district, but only with a special permit from the city. The change in rules would allow property owners to build a house or apartment building in the area without special permission.

"All we're asking is for it to be a primary use again, so planners understand we're consistent," McCarthy said. "Any way that we can mitigate the cost of development and encourage residential use in downtown certainly will be a benefit in the long run."

Residential building in the downtown commercial district was restricted during a rewrite of the ordinance that took effect in 2002, said city planning associate Jennifer Pruitt. City staff advocated for mixed-use development with retail and residential uses at that time, but the ordinance was changed to allow residences only with special city permission, Pruitt said.

Currently, the downtown historic area is zoned in stages, with streets closest to Carson Street designated as commercial/retail, buffered by a second zone that allows retail/office and residential, and then a residential-only area.

Redevelopment officials are formulating a community plan that would allow a variety of uses to be mixed within residential and commercial areas.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.


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