Mixing downtown residential, commercial OK'd

City supervisors are expected to make a final decision in the next two months whether to allow property owners to build houses, apartments and condos in the downtown commercial district.

Allowing residences downtown would open the door for projects that mix retail stores, offices and homes, an idea that redevelopment officials are also pursuing for the larger city core.

City planning commissioners recommended the change on Thursday and forwarded it on to the Board of Supervisors.

The board will review the change and is expected to make a decision on the first of two readings of the ordinance on Feb. 19.

The proposal was also approved by the city's Historic Resources Commission and the Redevelopment Commission this month.

The change in city ordinance, which was restricted in 2002, would allow builders to design projects in the commercial district next to Carson Street to include single-family homes, apartments and condos integrated with office or retail businesses.

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

A plan is expected this year to explore pilot projects for certain areas downtown.

Downtown zoning allows developers to build residential projects in the core district, but only with a special permit from the city.

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.

However, 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.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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