Freeway presents new opportunities for business
This is the third in a series on a new economic development plan for Carson City.
Carson City traffic!
Feelings of frustration sink in with just the thought of driving from one end of Carson City to another.
Research suggests traffic volumes entering Carson City could increase 56 percent between 2005 and 2025.
The Economic Strategic Planning Committee’s Corridor Task Force took a look at this snarling issue as well as aesthetics and other problems facing Carson City’s primary traffic corridors.
The focal point of the city’s traffic plan is the freeway bypass. Construction has already begun, independent of the Economic Strategic Planning process. The next phase begins next year.
For the Corridor Task Force, the bypass brings a new dynamic to the economy. Not only should it relieve traffic congestion through town, but it opens new areas for strategic development.
Rather than diverting potential business from downtown, it could improve business by improving traffic flow, according to Candace Duncan, executive director of the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In addition, the freeway will provide visibility and access to new areas of town.
On the other hand, past development has left much of the land along all the city’s traffic corridors fragmented into small parcels that present access difficulties.
The Corridor Task Force believes work needs to focus on these parcels, such as the Supply One site, empty for two years. Supply One presents special problems due to access difficulties.
According to Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority, ways to improve access are being considered.
All through Carson City, the task force believes improvements need to be made for more efficient land use, improved access and improved aesthetics.
Details include removing and relocating some outdated uses, developing design guidelines, installing street frontage improvements, increasing the permitted building height for specific projects and resolving legal impediments to development.
“The Corridor Task Force believes there are more effective ways to achieve our objectives,” said City Manager John Berkich.
Funding could come from the creation of redevelopment districts.
“Redevelopment is seen one of two tools available for achieving objectives,” Berkich said. “It has the ability to create a stream of funding.”
That stream is expected to be larger than the funds available from traditional city and private sources.
Redevelopment provides a tax increment to be made available in a specific district for projects in that district.
Because it taps into existing tax revenue, redevelopment districts are sometimes criticized for hurting other services such as schools.
According to Berkich, that’s not inevitable if handled properly.
“We fully intend that the schools are not harmed by this.”
The Corridor Task Force also recommended improvements in the areas of advertising, promotion and marketing to retain and expand existing businesses in Carson City.
Perhaps the most visible recommendation is to create “portals” or “gateways” at the Highway 50 East entrance to Carson City.
“A portal is an entrance door,” explained Weisinger. “It’s inviting people to come and stay, to be a part of Carson City.”
That’s particularly important to companies considering relocating to Carson City, Weisinger said.
An artist’s concept perches the portal on a hill overlooking the city.
“It captures a vista of the valley when a person arrives so they know they’ve arrived in special place,” Berkich said.
The conceptual design includes monuments to Carson City’s railroad history, including stone arches saved from the V&T Railroad roundhouse.
The eastern portal is just one. The hope of the economic planners is to see a welcoming, thriving view at every entrance to Carson City.