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More on The Return of Reno

By Chuckmonster on Sunday, 13th January 2008 9:27am
  » filed under Reno, Tahoe & Sparks  comments: 0


The Reno Gazette Journal has another article today outlining some of what the city has done to improve things in the downtown casino district. Their current vision of downtown Reno is to refocus it as a "Pikes Place" (Seattle's downtown fish market/gathering place) with casinos.

The city has invested $10 million dollars in new sidewalks, public art, lighting (thank goodness for this... if you stray 10 feet from the main drag, you're in the dark) plus the railroad track trench. They have plans to build a plaza over the trench as well.

Even with these municipal investments, the face of downtown Reno still hasn't changed. Fitzgeralds Reno operator Fernando Leal says that what is needed in downtown is more than a coat of paint and new sidewalks. (No shit.)

That face of downtown has to change. We know itís tired, old and run-down. What it says to visitors now is not too much different than when the trains were running downtown. Right now, itís still considered blight.

The question is, can 'will' alone close the pawn shops, junk stores and other bottom feeders that dot the downtown Reno storefronts? Pawn shops and gambling go hand in hand, is it really possible to have them removed or relocated? I was shocked at how many pawn shops there are in downtown Macau. Nearly every store on the ground level in the blocks north of Avenida de Amizade between the Golden Dragon and Grand Lisboa is a pawn shop. Their buzzing neon signs are so prevalent, that I can even recognize the Chinese characters for Pawn Shop now.

The city government is planning to give loans to all of the shop owners to re-do their building facades according to a "master plan". If the shop owners upkeep their new exteriors for five years, their 'loans' will be forgiven. While this is possibly a good idea, master-planned anything might even be worse than the mish-mash of stuff thats there now. One of the biggest travesties is the dilapidating signage for the former Reno Horseshoe casino (now a slot parlor/junk shop). Call me old fashioned, but how about turning downtown Reno it a real festival of lights - Fremont Street meets Macau in the mountains. It's probably not the image that the 'new' Reno wants to purvey, particularly the numerous owners of condos that have been wrung out of the many closed hotels in the area.

No matter what, it's going to be interesting to see how Reno's attempted resurgence pans out - or not.



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