Residents view key downtown makeovers

John Rutledge of Carson City makes his choice for the new design of the former CitiBank building on Wednesday.

John Rutledge of Carson City makes his choice for the new design of the former CitiBank building on Wednesday.

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Residents strongly favored a design evoking historic feelings for Carson City’s former Citibank building Wednesday.

After viewing two designs and voting, they toured the Adams Hub to learn about state-of-the art options at that business incubator.

The Hop & Mae Adams Foundation, which has both downtown properties, hosted informal gatherings for anyone interested during morning, lunch hour, mid-afternoon and after work sessions to seek input on one of two designs for the former bank building on Telegraph Square at 308 N. Curry St.

The 22,000-square-foot, vacant bank is just steps away from the new Adams Hub, which is in a 5,000-square-foot building that used to house Stewart Title Co. offices at North Carson and West Proctor streets. The Hut was redone as an incubator office and is ready to help startup tech firms or other companies. The daylong viewings of designs and Hub tours were at 10 a.m., Noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Most people on hand at the fist three sessions to view and critique the alternative Curry Street building designs approved of the historic look in one architectural rendering rather than the more modern lines featured in the other. A few, however, felt the functional design with straight lines made more sense. A lifelong planner and member of Carson City’s planning commission was among them.

“For Carson City to move forward, it will need to attract a younger demographic,” Paul Esswein wrote on a sticky note he attached with his vote for the more modern rendering. “Continuing to rely on stale architectural styles will not signal that Carson City is a city looking to the future.”

Though he was the lone vote for that concept at the first session, a few more joined him as the day wore on. But most returns heavily favored the other concept. Among comments on sticky notes it attracted was one saying it fits in with the downtown’s feel, another saying a cohesive look promoting Carson history is appropriate. “Brick look symbolizes stability,” added the writer of the latter note.

Those attending also were asked what businesses they want at the former bank building now that it is gutted and entering the renovation stage to prepare it for eventual leasing. Many preferred a local coffee shop to a regional or national chain, plus both professional services firms and retailing. Votes, in addition to those favoring a coffee shop, were posted for boutique clothing and home decor shops, as well as a restaurant.

Miya MacKenzie, MacWest Marketing president and spokesperson for the foundation run by Steve Neighbors, gave a brief speech at each gathering to say the foundation has finished the Hub, is starting on the Curry Street bank building and will soon begin work on the vacated High Sierra Brewing Co. building directly north of the Hub.

She also said the Curry Street structure needed much work to get to this stage in rehabilitation, compared with the brewing company structure at 302 N. Carson St., so work on both can proceed.

“We will happily do them at the same time,” she said. She also said the brewing building retains its brewery equipment and the hope is such use will continue.

“We’d very much like it to stay a brewery,” she said.

Rob Griffin, executive director of Adams Hub, said the facility is the first Carson City building with ultra-high speed wiring and wireless capabilities, plus other bells and whistles to help spur innovation among startup tech firms. He said it is ”basically a state-of-the-art office, rather than a garage or kitchen” to which a startup companies traditionally might have been relegated years ago.

Griffin said the goal is to provide a collaborative environment, plus consulting and business services to fledgling firms that “are scaleable” and can leave in a few months or years with growth creating profits and jobs.

“We hope we run out of space,” he said.

He said tech, manufacturing or other firms are welcome at reasonable cost, but lifestyle-oriented firms likely won’t be in the mix.


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