Carson City motel could become transitional housing

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The Whistle Stop Inn, one of Carson City’s extended stay motels targeted for clean up, may have a new owner soon.

Friends in Service Helping (FISH) is expected to submit an application for a special use permit this month to turn the property into transitional housing for people participating in a new career program.

FISH is still working with a real estate appraiser on the property’s appraisal, which will set the purchase price, but the sale hinges on getting the special use permit.

Jim Peckham, executive director, FISH, said FISH has the funds to bring the property into code compliance.

The motel was first inspected in November 2016 as part of an effort by the city to crack down on rundown motels where people live. The property owner, Betty Brinson, failed to meet deadlines to do work required by the inspection and since then two criminal citations have been issued.

But FISH has bigger plans for the property.

“If we’re able to live with the conditions and get a special use permit, but we’re not going to buy it if we can’t upgrade it,” said Peckham.

FISH wants to build a multifamily complex consisting of 24 two-bedroom units, 12 one-bedroom apartments, and 3,000 square feet of commercial space, according to a major project review of the plans by the city Planning Division.

One issue is parking, according to the review. City code would require 84 parking spaces, but FISH’s submitted plans indicates 41 spots because many of the tenants will not have cars and FISH will provide transportation for them.

“Given the operational standards seem to be the justification for the reduced parking, staff will be seeking a deed restriction that limits the occupancy to those participating in the program, and obligates FISH to operate the shuttle,” reads the review. “The case for reduced parking must be strong, and receive the support of the Planning Commission.”

The property is currently made up of seven buildings, according to Peckham, and has 20, still occupied rooms. FISH would keep tenants on existing leases and begin more extensive renovations — demolishing and rebuilding — once rooms and buildings were vacated.

None of this has to happen overnight. The new program — Realizing Opportunities for the American Dream to Succeed, or ROADS — is just getting off the ground and so far has one participant who currently lives in FISH’s existing transitional housing.

The program is a cooperative effort involving FISH, Capital City C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative, Northern Nevada Development Authority, Western Nevada College, and others.

The goal, said Peckham, is to identify qualified individuals with high school diplomas and minimum wage jobs and send them through one of four certificate programs at WNC so they can get higher paying jobs in construction, healthcare, information technology or manufacturing.

To make it work, FISH and its partners want to take away as many obstacles as possible, including providing low-cost housing if needed and assistance with other financial needs.

Peckham expects the first participant to have her certificate in manufacturing by the end of this year and possibly one or two more candidates enrolled next semester.

“Come June we’re optimistic we’ll have everything worked out so we can move forward and we hope to have 50 next year,” said Peckham.

If all goes to plan, FISH’s special use permit application will be heard at the January Planning Commission meeting and the purchase of the Whistle Stop Inn completed in February, said Peckham.


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