By Rocio Hernandez
University of Nevada, Reno freshman Dayani Matute moved into the downtown area before the start of her first semester. She likes her apartment complex but doesn’t feel the same about the neighborhood.
“It is not a pretty place to live,” Matute said. “The apartments that I live in aren’t bad but the surroundings are. There are always bums walking around and dog crap. Overall, it just looks dirty.”
As the City of Reno undertakes projects downtown, Revitalization Manager Alex Woodley believes that UNR and its students are among those that benefit from the city’s desire to renew its image.
“Making downtown more appealing, cleaner and providing a sense of security will make it more desirable for students to walk downtown,” Woodley said. “More students walking downtown will create even more of a sense of security, action and enhanced activity.”
The revitalization project started during the fall of last year and will be given a permanent place on the city’s agenda. The city will impose new regulations specific to downtown focused on proper maintenance of signs and sidewalks, exterior lighting on buildings and vacant building standards.
“If downtown is revived, it will enhance the attractiveness of our university with the river walk, coffee shops, hundreds of restaurants and dozens of entertainment,” Woodley said.
During a city council meeting last month, Woodley gave an update of the project’s progress. Already, it has cleaned out debris, covered graffiti, closed off the Heart O’ Town Motel and the Golden West Motor Lodge, replaced lightning along Second Street, cleaned up excessive trash at Fulton Alley Dumpsters, and gotten rid of the former Golden Phoenix sign and an abandoned sign in front of the Colonial Motor Inn.
Molly Moser is a Producer for KOLO Channel 8. She has been covering the changes in the downtown area since she was a student at UNR.
Moser said that one of the biggest projects that she has seen is an effort led by local businesses with the help of the city called Positively Fourth Street. According to Moser, owners of Bodega Night Club, Anchor Auction and Under the Rose Brewery to shed the street’s current reputation of homelessness, high crime and prostitution by hosting activity nights and pushing art movements.
“The point of these projects is to give Reno a quality of life, vibrancy and a better place to live,” Moser said.
Moser thinks that Reno’s downtown is moving away from a “mini-Las Vegas image” to one that is composed of art, culture and a real sense of community.
“Downtown is trying to make events for college-aged people,” Moser said. “More housing is being offered. There’s bingo nights at pizza parlors and more employment opportunities are emerging. Downtown is growing up from its casino image and slowly becoming a town to get everybody connected.”
Admissions Director Steve Maples views the redevelopment as a value for current and future students.
“I would just like to see more opportunities for our college students,” Maples said. “The more we develop [downtown], the safer it’s going to be and more opportunities we have for students outside of the classroom, which I’m all about, minus the hookah bars.”
Rocio Hernandez can be reached at email@example.com