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Nugget chief discusses downtown project

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

Carson Nugget President Steve Neighbors addressed the City Center Project at the Nevada Business Connections meeting Wednesday morning, telling attendees that a detailed financial plan will be presented to an advisory committee on Sept. 27.

The redevelopment project would include a public library adjacent to private retail and office space, all to be developed by P3 Development of Sacramento.

Neighbors said if the project moves forward, the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation would lease the library building to the city, which would in turn pay on the lease with a proposed 1⁄8-cent sales tax for about 30, or more, years.

“If (the city) fulfills the lease they will own the building,” Neighbors said, adding the city’s payments to the foundation for the library would go back to fund the library board.

During the meeting, Board of Supervisors candidate Rob Joiner questioned if the city would eventually own the land. He added that a proposed 1⁄8-cent sales tax increase to help fund the library amounted to “tax increment financing.”

“Can you give us an answer finally today,” Joiner said. “Are you going to give us anything like the land … or are we going to talk and dance in a circle.”

Neighbors retorted: “You must be running for office.”

He said Mae Adams, who died in October, did not want to donate the land directly to the city – he cited Adams’ philosophical aversion to “subsidizing” government – instead allowing the city to pay a lease that would eventually lead to the city owning it.

Neighbors said before P3 Development was signed on as the developer, it had to agree to shoulder all of the burden of financing the project and that the city would not be on the hook for any debt. Neighbors added that P3 would have to “maximize” the number of the construction jobs that go to locals, too.

As for parking, Neighbors said there still are many uncertainties given the potential for Carson Street to narrow and add parking downtown. He said a parking garage is likely, but its size and cost cannot be determined yet.

“We’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot,” Neighbors said. “But the intent is parking is free.”

He also addressed claims that the project would benefit the Carson Nugget casino.

“I don’t think we need a bigger casino,” he said. “What do we have to do to make a difference to the community of Carson City, and it isn’t more slot machines.”