Downtown project will move Carson City forward |

Downtown project will move Carson City forward

Tammy Westergard

On Dec. 10, in a special evening meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the Carson Nugget development team presented project findings to a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds of members of the community. The detailed report on the economic impact of this project was a highlight, illustrating the imperative that Carson City needs to get back to work.

The vision of a downtown development featuring a business-focused, high tech public library (a knowledge center) coupled with a business incubator folded into a master development was met with great interest and overwhelming citizen support.

It is clear that the project will change the very fiber of Carson City. With that basic understanding comes many questions, all of which must be answered.

Folks wonder, how can business grow by creating a central downtown gathering area?

Studies show that when communities have pedestrian-friendly downtowns built around a central heart, or plaza, then a variety of activities and people living in the neighborhood will naturally crop up, drawing more people into the area. A central heart is like a people magnet, increasing the drawing power of the entire area.

In our case Carson City is kind of like a mini Washington, D.C. We have so many civic assets in such close proximity to one another that once a people-magnet center is created then we will also want to go explore the areas around the center.

Folks also wonder if this development will be out of scale and context with what exists today.

Fortunately, Carson City adopted a downtown mixed-use zoning and development code in 2007 that clearly defines limits on building height and density to preserve our vistas. Further, encouraging a variety of building styles that fit with Carson City’s Comstock history is also required. Development that promotes walking is also a top priority; plus we want buildings to last, stand up to the weather and foster safety.

In an effort to encourage “green” construction and position Carson City as a leader in environmentally sound practices, the new code states U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria must be minimally met.

The full downtown mixed- use zoning and development code (as well as an EZ Read version) is easily read online at, click the left side button from the homepage.

• Tammy Westergard is deputy manager of the Carson City Office of Business Development. Send questions and feedback to twestergard@ci.carson-city .