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Reviving Downtown Reno, Nevada

I have visited Reno, Nevada before and I must say that it is not one of my favorite places. The area surrounding Reno is very beautiful, perhaps one of the most beautiful locations in the United States. It is located among the Sierra Nevada mountains and is very close to Lake Tahoe. But the beauty does not extend to downtown Reno, unless you like outdated casino architecture.

Who knew that the architecture and gaudy signs and lights of the 1950s and 60s casinos would look tacky at the turn of the millennium? Certainly this has been a detriment to downtown Reno, and has resulted in the closing of many casinos. Also, it does not help that Reno has a heavy rail line running through the middle of downtown. Or that some of its downtown streets are not the most hospitable to pedestrians, and feel uncomfortable at night. But, hopefully help is on the way.

Developers from the San Francisco Bay area are proposing to demolish the blighted former Kings Inn Casino and turn the property into a mixed-use condominium development with 99 units, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. This is just one of the casino-to-condo conversions underway in Reno. The former Comstock Casino is another conversion that has sold all but 15 of its 125 units.

Also, the Las Vegas Sun reports that Reno has been allocated federal transportation money to cover parts of its downtown train trench and convert it to several pedestrian plazas and an open space area. They hope this project will improve the connectivity of downtown and create a more walkable environment.

These projects should really help Reno’s downtown turn the corner. Honestly, it is not far away from being a formidable competitor to Las Vegas, simply because it already is at a more walkable scale than the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard. It has a connected grid street pattern downtown and block sizes that are a pedestrian scale. Pedestrian scale is unheard of in Vegas (outdoors on the Strip anyway), with its mammoth casinos dominating the scene.

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