Downtown redevelopment officials open discussion for new uses
Would new, densely built, multi-story buildings mixing apartments rented by young professionals with cozy downstairs cafes stimulate Carson City’s historic downtown district? What about neighborhood grocery stores nestled next to a row of homes?
Redevelopment officials will open a public discussion tonight to see what the community envisions to be the future of a revitalized downtown after the Carson City Freeway is built. Everything from public art to street lighting and shopping will be on the table.
“We want to find out if the community has an appetite for this,” said Joe McCarthy, the city’s economic development and redevelopment manager. “This is an opportunity to give this town a chance to take a look at how it wants to evolve.”
The idea of revitalizing aging downtown cores by creating a new landscape that encourages more people to live, shop and work in the area is not new. Many cities – Truckee, Sparks, Reno – have tried the plan and it works, McCarthy said.
“It’s a broader mix of compatible uses that stimulate the economics of an area,” McCarthy said.
The characteristics of such an urban district combines residential, retail, office, cultural and civic uses in the same area. These could include art displays, benches, wider sidewalks and attractive, better lighting to encourage people who live nearby to walk to work, dinner or shopping.
Developers could build the allowed shops, offices or restaurants next to homes, for instance, without going through the extra hoops of getting special city permits. With current regulations, a coffee shop couldn’t be located next to the Brewery Arts Center, McCarthy said.
The city is focusing it’s plans on the area bordered by Fleischmann Way and 10th Mountain and Stewart streets.
“We want to allow commerce to help revitalize the downtown,” McCarthy said.
The city sent out thousands of note cards last week encouraging residents, property and business owners to come to today’s meeting to open the discussion. Another meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the monthly meeting of the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee at City Hall.
Architect Arthur Hannafin of Hannafin Darney Architects in Carson City said he plans to go to tonight’s meeting to find out more about the plan.
“I’m a proponent of changing it in general, but I need to see the actual scope,” he said.
The committee plans to hold as many meetings as needed to develop the size and direction of the project and gather comments from residents, McCarthy said.
Officials are looking to start planning economic strategies for the downtown before the Carson City Freeway is completed, he said. A citizens’ committee identified the redevelopment ideas last year as a high priority and the mixed-use zoning approach was recognized by a downtown work group working with the Economic Vitality Plan as a way to encourage quality development and stimulate business.
IF YOU GO
What: Public Open House for Mixed-Use Zoning in the Redevelopment District
When: 5 p.m. today
Where: Grand Ballroom, Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St.