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Residents now welcome in downtown core

Jill Lufrano

Developers who want to build apartments, condos or homes alongside downtown businesses may soon be able to go ahead with their plans without having to ask the city for special permission, Carson City supervisors decided Thursday.

Currently, the downtown historic area is zoned in stages, with streets closest to Carson Street designated as commercial/retail, buffered by a second zone that allows retail/office and residential, and then a residential-only area.

The change will allow residences to be sprinkled in with retail and commercial, allowing projects like a multi-story building with an art gallery on the bottom floor and apartments above. However, it won’t allow a developer or landowner to place a mobile home on an open lot on Carson Street.

The Board of Supervisors approved allowing residential back into downtown, but the change will need a second approval in two weeks before becoming part of the city code.

“We think it’s a good idea,” said Mayor Ray Masayko.

Residential building in the downtown commercial district was restricted during a rewrite of the ordinance that took effect in 2002. At that time, city staff advocated for mixed-use development with retail and residential uses. However, the ordinance was changed to allow residences only with special city permission.

Last month, the issue stalled after Supervisor Richard Staub brought up concerns the change would allow property owners to install mobile homes as residences in downtown. City planning staff reworked the ordinance, approved by the Planning Commission last week, that made single-family and two-family dwelling an accessory use, meaning mobile home plans would have to be approved separately.

“That closes an unintended loophole,” Masayko said.

If approved in two weeks as expected, multi-family residential use would be added to a list of what is allowed downtown. That list includes accounting and bookkeeping, alcoholic beverage sales, antiques, art gallery, art store, bakery, coffee shop, clothing sales, brew pubs and bookstores among several other retail and commercial uses.

The idea to mix apartments and condos in the downtown core is part of a larger plan to introduce a variety of projects throughout the historic district. City officials are looking at ways to promote living, working, walking and staying downtown to increase pedestrian traffic and patronage of downtown businesses.

Redevelopment officials have met several times recently with residents to discuss changing the landscape of the city’s historic district to encourage more people to live, shop, work, and dine downtown.

A plan is expected this year to explore pilot projects for certain areas downtown.

Downtown zoning allows developers to build residential projects in the core district, but only with a special permit from the city.

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