GOLD HILL -Although nearly every other part of Northern Nevada has experienced enormous growth, both residential and commercial, the tiny community of Gold Hill, one mile south of Virginia City, has been mostly left untouched.
Bill Konopisos, owner of W.A.K. Construction in Reno, is building two duplexes on Main Street, side by side, just south of the Virginia and Truckee Railway tracks.
The first is under construction and the second is right behind.
"We're padding off the other one and building a retaining wall now," Konopisos said.
The duplexes will not be typically tiny Comstock properties - they will be 3,170 square feet each, with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths.
Konopisos said he isn't sure how much they will be rented for, since it's hard to tell what the market will be like when construction is completed.
The last commercial building was a small storage center with five units put up by Virginia City surveyor Greg Hess Sr. in 1997. He added a workshop to the property this year.
Before that, the last commercial construction was done in the 1980s.
According to Gold Hill Hotel owner Bill Fain, a major addition was added to the historic hotel in 1987.
A home across the street from the hotel was rebuilt in the late 1980s, Fain said.
"It was there, but we had to tear it down because there was too much fire damage," he said. "Ben Wesner rebuilt it as an almost exact replica on what was there."
Several cabins that the Gold Hill Hotel rents to guests were built in the 1980s - the Honeymoon House in 1986 and the Carriage House in 1892. A few small historic homes - built from the 1860s to the 1880s - that the hotel owns were moved to the area from Sparks and Carson City, but they weren't built in the 1980s, just relocated.
Fain also said three four-unit apartment buildings were built in Gold Hill in the late 1970s or 1980.
What made Konopisos choose Gold Hill when every other area in the region is booming?
"I think it's going to be real unique - I love that area up there," he said. "I built one in Virginia City at 226 A Street, and so then these lots came available and I just grabbed all four lots," he said.
The Virginia City house is now on the market at a listed price of $605,000.
Konopisos is in business with his son, Matthew, also of Reno. Matthew Konopisos is part-owner of the Reno Astros baseball team and once played professional baseball with the Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres.
The father-and-son team have put together a number of spec houses, or houses that are built to be sold, rather than occupied by the owner.
"We have three going up in Arrowcreek and some going on Geiger Grade this fall," Konopisos said. "The Geiger ones are in the $2 million (price) range, with views and a lot of acreage."
Konopisos said the first duplex under construction will be completed by the end of November and the next will be done by January. He doesn't plan to be held back by the extreme Comstock weather.
"We always build through the winter," he said.
He's going to paint the duplexes beige so they will blend in with the desert landscape. "I don't want it to stick out like a sore thumb," he said.
n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.