And it’s not just the huddled groups of gamers playing Pokémon GO. It's the new murals adding color to the sides of formerly empty buildings. It's the lit-up windows of new retailers. It's the construction crews moving earth, laying foundations and transforming old buildings for new purposes.
Here are six redevelopment projects to pay attention to in the next year as they transform downtown.
Nine-tenths of a mile, a 17-minute walk according to Google, is the distance you have to travel to see all six projects transforming the heart of downtown Reno.
First on the walking tour is the largest downtown redevelopment project proposed in Reno’s history.
Where: 17 acres contained by Washington Street on the west, Arlington Avenue on the east, West 1st Street on the south, and the City of Reno’s ReTRAC train project on the north.
The scope of the entire 17-acre West 2nd District could cost more than $1.2 billion and take about 10 years to build. This redevelopment plans to transform Reno's skyline with the tallest building in the city.
Construction on the first building of the largest redevelopment in downtown Reno is slated for early fall. 235 Ralston Street will include 28 condominiums and two commercial spaces; all of which are already reserved. The Don J Clark Group, the architecture and development firm leading the project, already has plans in place for the next three buildings to be built after 235 Ralston Street. But, the project’s future will also take market conditions into account.
"The point of the project is in part to be responsive," said Colin Robertson, partner and director of communications and strategy at The Don J Clark Group. "We have designed the first phase, and now we need to let market conditions guide what comes next."
Our next stop, just a block and a half east, has risen from the proverbial ashes of a motel deemed Reno’s worst blighted property by a former mayor, to become a mixed-use modern mecca.
Where: 303 W. 3rd St. Reno
Slated to open in November, 3rd Street Flats will include 94 rental units, 9,000-square feet of retail space and a bevy of amenities for residents.
“It’s a great location for young urban professionals,” said Mike Williams, vice president of marketing for project developer Basin Street Properties. “It’s a part of town we believe is going to be reclaimed as part of this Reno rebirth.”
Pre-leasing for the residential units is scheduled to begin in September with rents still to be determined.
As for the 9,000 square feet of retail on the bottom of the building, Williams teased a big announcement regarding a tenant.
“We’ve had a lot of cool concepts come through there — a restaurant or grocery would be two ideal options,” Williams said. “With 94 units upstairs, you immediately have a customer base.”
After checking out the 3rd Street flats, make your way down Sierra Street, and just after crossing the river you’ll see one of the most creative downtown redevelopments of recent years.
Where: Sierra Street and Island Avenue
Developers Phil Buckheart and Kurt Stitser are sourcing shipping containers from Oakland, California, and China. The containers will reshape the vacant lot next to the Riverside Artist Lofts to become Reno's first container park, a mixed-use outdoor venue.
Buckheart and Stitser say they hope to begin transforming the containers this fall. The containers will house three permanent bars on the lot's perimeter. The Eddy is also slated to include an outdoor courtyard with space for food trucks and a bocce ball court. Yoga, farmers markets, and other special events also will be hosted in the park.
“Hopefully, we’ll be selling beers by spring,” Stitser said.
Heading away from the future site of the Eddy, east along the river walk, will lead you to the downtown redevelopment boasting the first major retailer in downtown Reno in three decades.
Where: 50 S. Virginia St., Reno
Riding the high of opening West Elm, the team at 50 South Virginia Street is ready to fill the building to capacity. Formerly Reno’s main U.S. Post Office, the Art Deco building houses four levels of adaptive reuse space.
The subterranean marketplace, The Basement, welcomed several new tenants this summer. Escape, an underground fitness spot with dark rooms filled with spin bikes, heavy bags, and intense music, opened in June. Then, Chomp, a salad bar dedicated to the architecture of the perfect bite, started serving salads, frozen yogurt and more in August.
Come the holidays, a new bar, Stamp, will open in The Basement's Mess Hall, said
Brianna Bullentini, lead designer for The Basement. By the same time, the Lecture Hall should be open for business as well.
"The team creating those spaces is really going to curate it and create a speakeasy feel," Bullentini said.
There’s also been extensive interest from companies looking to occupy the two stories of office space above West Elm, Bullentini said.
Our next stop on the downtown redevelopment tour is right across Center street from The Basement.
Where: 1 Lake St., Reno
The Siena, scheduled to become the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa in early 2017, received a coat of chic gray paint on the building’s exterior this summer.
When it opens, the 17,000-square-foot space will feature a recreation area including bocce ball courts, big screen TVs, ski ball and a bar.
Select private groups can take tours of the area beginning in October, but it won't open to the general public until March or April 2017, said Tristan Wood, the director of operations. In the floors above, crews continue to renovate each of the hotel's rooms, with the goal of completing all of them by the end of 2016.
"We really want to improve the area that the building is in," Wood said. "That's fueling the fire for us."
Exit the Sienna onto Center Street, look south, and you'll see the site of the next redevelopment helping to improve the area.
Where: 130 S. Center St., Reno
Home to the next large retailer coming to downtown Reno, Patagonia, this 17,000-square-foot space was a Hudson Motor Car Company dealership in the 1940s.
“It’s got really cool architecture,” said developer Brian Egan.
The outdoor clothing and gear company is slated to open its doors in November.
Across the street, award-winning home builders Allyson and Victor Rameker (owners of Desert Wind Homes) are transforming Center Lodge, also formerly one of the city's most blighted buildings, into housing. The old Pine Food & Spirits building is being rehabilitated for a potential new food business, Egan said.
The Hudson project will also be home to the newest Reno coffee shop, See See Motor Coffee. Another Portland transplant, See See Motor Coffee has created a hybrid business that is one-half coffee and the other half motorcycle shop.
After exploring the Hudson Project, you will have concluded Capstak’s walking tour of the top downtown redevelopments. If you’re still feeling adventurous, we recommend walking over to fourth street and sampling some of the wares in Reno’s unofficial brewery district. Another option is walking sound into Midtown. Between the restaurants, shops, watering holes and other new developments you’ll be sure to find something entertaining.