The parent company of the Sands Regency Casino Hotel has asked the Town of Reno to divest part of Ralston Street as part of a major redevelopment of the downtown West Fourth Street corridor.
Submitted on May 28, Jacobs Entertainment’s abandonment request covers Ralston Street between West Third and West Fourth Streets, which passes right by the Sands Hotel and Casino. The company asks for the abandonment in order to better connect the different parts that it plans to develop for its Reno Neon Line project.
Jacobs Entertainment is also seeking approval for a special use permit that would allow it to proceed with construction projects its new Sands Connect event space.
The requests are all part of Jacobs’ ongoing plans to transform the corridor into a new downtown neighborhood. The company envisions the Reno Neon Line district as a vibrant neighborhood that will offer a mix of art exhibits, events, restaurants and accommodation to breathe new life into the West Fourth Street corridor.
Jacobs Entertainment plans to present a comprehensive development agreement to Reno City Council in August or September.
“This is all part of a larger demand pending with the city… to move the Neon Line neighborhood of Reno forward,” said Garrett Gordon, attorney at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP working for Jacobs Entertainment. “We also have a draft development agreement and special use permits that we are working on with city staff.”
As part of the housing component of the project, Jacobs plans to convert 173 hotel rooms – about 20% of the Sands’ 847 rooms in its three towers – into apartments.
The move is part of several recent efforts to bring more housing to the city center. Las Vegas-based CAI Investments, for example, is finalizing a $ 50 million deal with Caesars Entertainment to acquire the Harrah’s Reno building and turn it into a mixed-use development known as Downtown Reno.
Jacobs Entertainment has also purchased several aging motels along the West Fourth Street corridor, some of which have been renovated as new apartments. These include the Crest Inn – which has since been converted into the Renova Flats – and the Courtyard Inn Motel, which is in the midst of a $ 5 million renovation and will be renamed Loft 601 Apartments. Jacobs also acquired the Town House Motor Lodge after the property was foreclosed in March.
Inside the housing crisis in Reno:Why are we not building more affordable houses?
The loss of several old motels from the Neon Line project as well as the new RTC RAPID bus station project near the University of Nevada, Reno, raised concerns about the exacerbation of Reno’s housing affordability issues, especially in the downtown area. The dilapidated motels had served as de facto affordable housing for low-income residents. In response, CEO Jeff Jacobs told the Reno Gazette Journal earlier this year that the company will set aside 100 of the 300 new housing units it currently has planned as affordable housing.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Jacobs Entertainment will continue to push forward with its housing plans, Gordon said.
“The pandemic has struck and we will continue to have a housing shortage,” Gordon said. “We need all the residential units we can build right now in Reno, which is why Reno’s Neon Line neighborhood will include both market-priced and affordable housing.”
Jacobs Entertainment has also pledged to stick to its previously announced plans for the Neon Line District, which was announced for an additional investment of $ 150 million on top of the initial $ 135 million for its first phase. These include a major overhaul of the Sands, which will include renovated rooms, a new spa and casino, a second parking lot, convention spaces, a rooftop pool, and several restaurants.
To attract locals and tourists to the neighborhood, Jacobs will also complement its Burning Man art exhibit and classic Reno neon signs with amenities such as a new food court centered around the stylish Nystrom house. Gothic, 150 years old.
“We want to let the site reach its full potential as a destination casino,” Jacobs told RGJ in March. “We need as many amenities as possible to attract people to Reno.”
COVID-19 causes delays
However, the impact of COVID-19 ended up pushing back the construction schedule and also led to the temporary closure of Jacobs properties. Gold Dust West Casino just reopened on June 4, and the Sands Hotel & Casino is slated to reopen on June 24 as part of phase two of Nevada’s plans to reopen.
For 2020, Jacobs Entertainment is seeking to finalize its permit and architectural plans for Reno’s Neon Line District project and also obtain the required city approvals, according to Gordon. Construction is expected to start next year, he added.
“Our focus here, really, has been focused on the downtown Reno action plan which emphasizes pedestrian-friendly environments, safety, connectivity and the ability to walk,” said Gordon. “We think this is how the package really sets the scene for dynamic mixed-use development.”