State of downtown: Gradual improvement

The Taste of Downtown remains one of the best nights of the year to visit the heart of Carson City, overshadowed only by the sheer magnitude of Nevada Day and the holiday spirit of the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. It's also a good time to take stock of the State of Downtown.

Drawing a crowd estimated at 5,000 people, the event on Saturday night showcased not only the talents of 27 restaurants and nine bands, but downtown itself. One step at a time, Carson City has managed over the past decade to transform its core into a place where people can find a surprising variety of entertainment and shopping.

There's more to be done, of course. A movie theater would be a great addition. Several storefronts still wait vacantly for the right tenant. Still, to think back 10 years is to recall a downtown more dead than alive, with more past than future.

One significant symbol of its ongoing resurrection is the Lucky Spur, which reopened last week. Empty for 30 years and gathering nothing more than pigeon droppings, the building has been reborn.

Another symbol - perhaps of the slow pace of change - is the biggest project, the Ormsby House, which has dragged on far too long. At least now much of the exterior has been made attractive.

Carson City's downtown redevelopment efforts are beginning to repay the investment that started with sometimes-controversial iron sidewalk railings and landscaping of Carson Street's islands. What once was a scraggly-looking row of buildings is taking on a true Main Street America character - Carson City's character.

The state of Nevada also has contributed by refurbishing buildings and maintaining a garden-like atmosphere. Every little touch - the Rotary Club's clock being a nice one - contributes to the overall effect.

It hasn't been that long since Carson City residents tended to apologize to visitors for the state of their downtown. Look at it with fresh eyes the next time you drive through. There's no longer a need to apologize. It's becoming a place you want to show off.


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