Progress on freeway sets pace for city’s work in ’04 | NevadaAppeal.com
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Progress on freeway sets pace for city’s work in ’04

Jill Lufrano

Carson City leaders say they will spend a lot of time and effort in 2004 to plan for the next five years in an attempt to get the city’s economy on solid ground.

With the announcement in early 2003 by Gov. Kenny Guinn that the Carson Freeway will be completed followed by a groundbreaking in October, the wheels on planning started to turn around City Hall this year.

“Obviously, the most noteworthy thing that happened was the governor’s announcement that the freeway was going through,” said Mayor Ray Masayko.

The city will continue to work with the Nevada Department of Transportation on agreements for the second phase of the project in 2004.

“We need to get this thing done by the end of this decade,” Masayko said.

The first shoveling of dirt Oct. 15 was symbolic. It also became an official reason for the city to pursue a rewrite of the comprehensive master plan, which promises to rezone areas to promote commercial and residential development to serve the freeway.

Downtown redevelopment proponents also began talks with residents about allowing retail and other mixed-use projects to intermingle in the historic district because the freeway is expected to whisk commuter traffic away from downtown.

The change is expected to bring more shopping and destination-oriented visitors to the historic city streets.

City staff and redevelopment officials are working on a proposed pilot project for the downtown area in 2004 to allow retail and residential/office projects to be built along West King and Fifth streets.

“Those are the areas the community has told us would be best served at encouraging mixed use,” said Economic Development and Redevelopment manager Joe McCarthy.

The freeway also sparked action in the auto retail sector. Facing pressure from corporate offices, auto dealers began negotiations with Carson City to develop an auto mall or row in city limits.

When talks failed for an auto mall off of Hot Springs Road, the city began meeting again with dealers who agreed to sign a two-year deal to pursue an mall development. This agreement will carry dealers and the city through the next year as principal dealers Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer are expected to find a suitable location.

As part of the deal, the city promised to negotiate incentives and assistance during the year in an attempt to hold onto the retail sector, which generates 35 percent of the city’s tax revenue.

“Hopefully, we’ll know something in the first six months of the year about how well we do in securing the site,” said City Manager Linda Ritter. “We’re talking with all of the auto dealers.”

At the same time, the city will pursue creating a public/private partnership in South Carson by designating the commercial area a redevelopment zone, Ritter said. The designation will allow the city to use its own resources to redevelop the large auto lots after auto dealers move, she said.

“We’re going to need redevelopment tools to attract new businesses in that area,” Ritter said. “Even when the freeway is built, it has great commercial potential.”

City staff is expecting to bring the redevelopment proposal for South Carson to the Board of Supervisors in January, she said.

The idea to designate the city’s prime commercial corridors as redevelopment zones was first suggested in the city’s Economic Vitality Strategic Plan. Officials are working to make a reality.

City elected officials and staff said they will continue to turn the components plan into reality. One aspect that is expected to develop is the effort to bring the renewable energy industry into the region.

Renewable energy companies have already visited the city, and an announcement is expected soon about progress made in alternative-energy development, Ritter said. The city contracted with California’s Princeton Development Corp. to propose projects in alternative energy to create jobs.

“I think you’ll see businesses being attracted here as a result of the alternative energy project and more entities involved in the buying group as partners,” Ritter said.

City officials would also like to continuing to see progress on the Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, which broke ground in 2003, and that the construction of the V&T Railroad continues to gain momentum, Masayko said.

Economically, the city hopes the Lucky Spur remodel will be completed and the Ormsby House will reopen as the five-star establishment planned by its new owners, McCarthy said. The city will also pursue development possibilities for the area around Copper Point center and the vacant former V&T Shops site, he said.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

2004 City Goals

1. Adopt agreement with Nevada Department of Transportation to complete Phase II of the Carson City freeway

2. Develop a program to support economic development and job creation

3. Enhance the city’s Web site

4. Continue to pursue formation of a city Board of Health

5. Create a long-term strategic plan for automation services

6. Develop a facilities master plan to address possible consolidation of city offices, space needs, safety of employees and public

7. Meet the schedule of developing a comprehensive master plan