The Rinckel Mansion off North Curry Street. Historic properties in commercial areas may find new economic life under a proposed change in code that would expand hotels to include small boutique inns.
Library of Congress
A proposed change in city code would allow historic properties to be converted into boutique inns without the stricter requirements of a bed and breakfast.
On Wednesday, Carson City planning commissioners voted unanimously to change the definition of “hotel” in the code from a building containing six or more guest rooms to a building containing three or more guest rooms. Their recommendation will go before the Board of Supervisors.
The amendment would not change the zoning itself. Hotels are only allowed in commercially zoned areas. The change would lower the threshold of what could be considered a hotel in commercial areas, but regulations for hotels still apply, such as requiring fire sprinklers.
Applicant Sarah Martin owns the historic Rinckel Mansion on North Curry Street, which is zoned downtown mixed-use. She said she wants to offer guest rooms – she has three – but does not want to live on the premises, as required under the definition of a bed and breakfast.
“I think this would be a great asset to Carson City,” she told planning commissioners.
Under current code, a bed and breakfast is defined as a single-family dwelling with a maximum of five guest rooms and “providing meals exclusively to overnight guests.” Code further stipulates the owner must reside in the building.
Community Development Director Hope Sullivan said the change in code would diversify lodging options in Carson City. She called it “adaptive reuse.”
“This gives them that opportunity,” she told planning commissioners. “I’m looking at a hurdle I see in our ordinance.”
Hope cautioned the change would not allow normal residences to become hotels or vacation rentals. She said transient use of homes is prohibited in residential districts.
“Enforcement of that provision has been going on and will continue to go on,” she said.
Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the proposed change.
“As you know, many historic properties elsewhere have been turned into wonderful B&B’s, and I think that if this were to go through here, the demand to stay in those properties would be high,” she told the Appeal by email. “We should have more of these types of accommodations in this historic city.”