The Interim Finance Committee on Thursday approved a land deal with UNR that will give the Nevada Historical Society a new home.
In the trade, the state gets what used to be the Reno Gazette Journal building on Second Street in downtown Reno. Charlie Donahue, state lands administrator, said that will provide the historical society with twice as much space as its current home on the UNR campus. The university wants that building next to the Planetarium for office space and also gets two undeveloped parcels nearby that are next to university property.
The old newspaper building is valued at $4.5 million and the existing Historical Society property plus two parcels are worth $3.75 million. The Historical Society will make up the difference — about $773,000 — with private funds out of the Museum Dedicated Trust Fund. It will cost another estimated $725,900 to move in and cover other costs.
That, according to the summary of the deal, will leave the society an estimated $321,000 for unanticipated needs that might arise from the move.
The society has been working for years to find more space, pointing out that its collections are far more extensive than the existing building can accommodate.
Supporters say the new building is not only in a great location — just a block from the Truckee River — but has parking that the existing building lacks, a large conference/meeting room for events and double the space for collections and research.
The new building, however, comes with some challenges including some $3.6 million in immediate maintenance needs and a total of more than $9.8 million in eventual, long term needs including ADA work. But officials say a significant percentage of those “immediate” needs are pre-emptive and not based on actual problems. Museum officials say they are working on finding donors for the upgrades and other needed work.
The vote to approve the land exchange was unanimous.