High-tech conferences focus of Neighbors | NevadaAppeal.com

High-tech conferences focus of Neighbors

John Barrette

Steve Neighbors, whose Hop and Mae Adams Foundation properties remain at the crux of downtown’s future, looked past what he called “premature information” about it to tout his high tech vision again Wednesday.

In a telephone interview from his office in Idaho, Neighbors said Carson City is a “unique gem” and can be sold as a site for conventions on the national market to people who look beyond the city’s size.

“It’s difficult because Carson City is a small community,” he said, “but it has so much going for it.”

Neighbors, sounding unfazed Hyatt hotels had been publicly named as potentially interested in Carson City, said his focus involves a technology-driven complex that includes an auditorium and convention facility with an attached hotel on part of eight blocks near the Nugget Casino to the east of Carson Street. A walking mall with retail also was revealed as part of the early vision, but the tech focus remains Neighbors’ passion.

“That’s really been my ultimate focus,” he said, fleshing out details by describing the complex as one to accommodate 500 people. He said the potential auditorium would have 180 seats and the mid-sized convention facility would have break out rooms so the pair could handle conventions up to 500. He said a study has indicated a hotel also would be necessary and 110 conventions had been identified as the target market.

His high tech vision includes things such as stadium seating with computer capability at each seat, providing a lure for the types of events such bells and whistles could help attract.

Neighbors said the idea envisions the attached hotel would take 30 percent of the convention load, existing hotels the other 70 percent. He said though there are hotel rooms in Carson City, not all of them can cater to the clientele such a convention facility is designed to attract.

“We won’t have any city money in it,” he said, adding he has difficulty figuring out how to talk to people who obstruct change or distort things to push their own agendas. In 2012, an attempt to get voters behind another project involving the Carson City Library and some public money didn’t garner sufficient support. Neighbors soon after that said he was moving on with other attempts to redevelop downtown.

Projects he’s behind west of Carson Street include the previously refurbished former Stewart Title building that became the Adams Hub, a business incubator now open and geared to promoting tech startups and more established firms. Also being redone by Neighbors are the old Citibank building and former High Sierra Brewing Co. structures on that side of Carson Street.

The east side over to Stewart Street, however, is the focus of this latest and larger version of downtown revitalization. He said the issue of whether Carson Street should be two lanes north and south or just one lane each way with wider sidewalks isn’t part of his calculus.

“We don’t have a dog in that fight,” he said.

And he made his statement about early disclosure of tentative plans in a matter-of-fact tone.

“I think there was premature information out there,” he said. He also said, as he has on many occasions, he’s following the desire of the late Mae Adams, owner of the Nugget Casino, to help revitalize Carson City in a manner the community wants.

“We believe that as downtown goes,” he said, “so goes the community.”