Nugget project receives feedback at city design institute
The Carson Nugget project represents 21st century redevelopment thinking, but could be too big for Nevada’s capital city. Those comments were among the feedback Mayor Bob Crowell got from an urban planning conference he attended in March.
Crowell went to the Mayor’s Institute on City Design at Arizona State University’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, which gathered western mayors, urban planners and professors to discuss sustainable urban design and planning. The Carson Nugget project was a reason why the mayor was invited.
Crowell presented his findings at the April 26 meeting of the Nugget Advisory Committee for the Carson Nugget project.
While at the institute, Crowell said Carson City is suffering from a declining population, especially among young professionals, and the Carson Nugget project could create jobs and attract high tech industry.
Crowell said he wanted to know if the institute attendees thought the idea is a “feel-good thought or if it was a legitimate vision worthy of consideration.
“The overwhelming response from the group was that the project represented 21st century thinking regarding urban development,” he said. “Further, it was rather unanimous that we stay away from a convention center.”
Attendees at the institute said convention centers usually cost more money over time than they generate, while others suggested “conference centers as a workable alternative for cities our size and makeup,” he said.
One ASU professor told Crowell, “the project was essentially too big and that we should consider phasing in the development units,” he said.
Other concerns were raised over the possibility of increasing the city’s vacancy rate if state and city offices consolidated their operations inside the redevelopment project. Crowell said the attendees at the institute told him that would be a “judgment call that should be based on the merits of the project as it related to downtown development.”
One suggestion was to open satellite business incubators to soften any potential rise in the vacancy rate, which is more than 20 percent in Carson City – about twice what is considered healthy.
Other suggestions included:
• Avoid vertical buildings
• Use government buildings as collateral for developer financing
• Include public art to the greatest extent possible
• Make Stewart Street two lanes to reduce traffic flow in and around the project
Crowell said he got little feedback about the proposed 1⁄8 cent sales tax increase to raise about
$12 million to pay for a portion of the public’s share of the project. He said attendees said it’s a tool available to cities.
“From my perspective as the mayor I want to make sure that all of the risk, all types of risk in this project can be moved to the developer,” he said.
The Carson Nugget project, estimated to cost between $80 million and $100 million, could include a library, business incubator, retail and office space, entertainment venue and a parking garage on about six acres of property behind the Carson Nugget.
P3 Development of Sacramento was chosen as the master developer for the project last week. McCarthy Building Companies also was chosen as the master contractor.
Three Carson City companies also were chosen to work on the project.
They include Shaheen Beauchamp Builders, LLC.; Hannafin Design Associates, an architecture firm; and Resource concepts, Inc., an engineering consulting firm.