Reno Town Square

Abandoned plans for downtown Reno are nothing new. Just today I came across this drawing, plans for the “Reno Town Square” project, dated 1995. The Reno Town Square apparently would have been situated along the river, between Virginia and Center Streets. It would have involved filling in part of the river channel, closest to the Mapes, to create walking paths and shallow ponds. Also there would have been tree-lined public plazas on both sides of the river, with space for walking and sitting. Almost like an extension of the Riverwalk. The old Post Office itself would have been subdivided, and part of it set aside as restaurant space.

This was a pretty daring plan, especially for 1995. Most of the redevelopment we’re familiar with today hadn’t happened yet. The Holiday Casino had yet to be remodeled in to the Siena. The Mapes was still standing, boarded up. The Riverside Hotel was boarded up, and its western wing was still standing. The Regal Cinemas Century Riverside hadn’t been built yet. I think the Riverwalk west of Virginia had been completed, though, and Wingfield Park was there, even if it hadn’t yet had the mixed blessing of being decimated during the New Year’s Flood, and subsequently remodeled. And it was before the Center Street Bridge was demolished and rebuilt.

Now that downtown Reno has been reborn, maybe it’s time to dust off the Reno Town Square idea and give it another look. That block between Virginia and Center is still one of the ugliest stretches of the Truckee River, and it could use some sprucing up. This might be just the thing.


  1. I’ve always wondered why terracing down to the river was never part of 10 N. Viriginia. Seems a natural to me. I agree that they should revisit this proposal though what’s the deal with the post office? As far back as the first downtown master plan in 83 there were plans for that post office, which was assumed to be moving off-site in the near future then. They would have added on to it and built a park around it and called it “The River Room” and it was to be a centerpiece for the whole downtown experience. The “Reno Town Square” idea still seems to be making the assumption that the PO won’t need the small lot and alley they currently claim along the river, and it’s a 10 year old plan, and the gubmint still seems to be getting plenty of use out of the ole PO.

  2. I also like the old post office plaza concept, but judging from this morning’s RGJ, the city has a lot of other pressing issues right now.

    First, the council needs a new developer to do the restaurant proposed at the 10 North Plaza across the river and second it needs to find ways to complete the canopy and all the other half-funded and unfinished projects around downtown.

    Then, it wants to raise the sales tax so that the three proposed new police stations can be built – regardless of the advisory vote on increasing the sales tax.

    Busy, busy, busy 🙂


  3. While terracing down to the river WAS looked at in some of the design concepts, what none of the designers accounted for was the fiber optic cables that run close to the river that would have to be moved. We have been given extimates in the millions of dollars to do this.
    Regarding the Post Office, the City is in constant communications with the US Postal Service. We would like to acquire the site in fact, we once thought we were so close to a deal we gave up Mill Street to the Siena because we thought that we would move the Post Office parking to Mill Street so we could make the existing lot an extension of the River Walk.
    By the way, none of the things mentioned were half-funded when they started (insert emoticon here)

  4. Dave, it’s fantastic to see your response on this blog! If you come back, I would love to know what your view is toward financing beautification, plazas, parks, etc, with park levvies and leaving redevelopment to site improvements, event facilities, and business development? It’s just gut-wrenching following the course of the financing for some of these things the city really seems to need, but can’t seem to justify spending other people’s money on… And it seems as though if the city were being looked at as a whole, beautification and parkspace enhancement would be part of the overall parks & rec as well as public works department agenda.

  5. Thanks Dave. Having followed quite a few issues over the years, I know how much the costs on many of the projects have increased over time resulting in the repeated “half-funding”.

    The REA deal – where they came back time after time wanting more concessions – had to be particularly aggravating for the entire council. I hope you soon find another bidder who will be able to promptly complete what REA has long delayed. On the positive side, the many tough but important decisions the council has made and continues to make will benefit the city and region for decades to come – far more than most observers realize.

    I was particularly proud of Mayor Cashell, when he sat in for you at the recent RTC meeting and led the board to a unanimous decision to go with the Valley Route for the southeast connector. I was so afraid that one of the far more expensive mountain routes might be selected in response to the NIMBY lobby and was absolutely delighted to hear the mayor say that we can not afford another $150 million cost overrun as has happened with the 395 extension above Pleasant Valley.

    Congratulations to you and the entire council for having the guts to work together to make some tough and important decisions.


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