A New Downtown Reno

And while Carson City is thinking about narrowing the street and widening sidewalks as part of its ten-year plan, Reno is thinking of doing the same thing, only a little more in the short term. Like in the next ten months. According to the RGJ, Granite Construction will start work in September on narrowing Virginia Street between Second and Fourth to two lanes, and widening and beautifying the sidewalks there and in other places around downtown.

Of course, downtown Reno has a lot more problems besides just the sidewalks. And the area where this is being done is what City Council likes to think of as the “heart” of downtown, the main casino corridor from Harrah’s to the Eldorado. It’s funny, then, that most residents (and even out-of-town visitors, which I consider myself) think of the neighborhoods down by the river as the “heart” of downtown. Especially the Wefi area, which is what those kooky locals call the corner of West and First Streets, where you’ll find Java Jungle, Wingfield Park, and a bunch of new stores that have opened since the last time I was down there.

So what’s my point? Nothing really. Just rambling. Downtown Reno is slowly losing its reliance on the casinos, because the big casinos are getting bigger and the small ones are getting smaller and being replaced by pawn shops. As the casinos go away, something else needs to be moving in to keep downtown alive, but what will that be? New sidewalks are nice, but that’s only one factor in the “walkability” of downtown. Some parts of downtown are downright scary to walk around after dark, and the line between the nice parts and the bad parts is razor thin. You can literally be walking along a good block, turn the corner, and be on a bad block. One minute you’re strolling past charming little coffeehouses, the next you’re confronted by shirtless racists. It’s this inconsistency that Reno has to overcome.

The only inconsistency downtown Carson has, on the other hand, is architectural inconsistency. Namely, this being right across the street from this. It may make you dizzy, but you don’t fear for your life because of it.

Oh well, I’m hardly the one to look to for opinions about downtown Reno anyway. Better rely on the experts here, Myrna the Minx, Yukon Sully, and Downtown Makeover. You’ll find more about Reno there in one day than you’ll find here in a year.

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