As Reno’s push for a vibrant and community-based downtown area begins, an area which was previously “blighted” motels in the downtown area is getting a new attraction.

An area between Fifth and Sixth Street on South Virginia Street is getting what is being called the Reno Playa Art Park. The Art Park is set to feature an array of sculptures from this year’s Burning Man.

The temporary installation is part of Reno’s rebranding toward a more arts-and culture-oriented community.

“If companies like Tesla are going to come [to Reno],” said Maria Partridge, the event coordinator for RPAP, “we have to have arts and culture for the people that work for those companies.”

The opening of the Art Park is slated for Thursday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. Members of the community are invited to attend the event and witness Burning Man art being unveiled in their very own city.

The Reno Playa Art Park is part of The Gateway Project in Reno. The Project is a coalition of nonprofits and community-based businesses that acquire art featured at Burning Man and bring it to the city for the enjoyment of the people in the community.

The Gateway Project has worked to place other Burning Man artwork around town, including an installation of a piece called “Pantemonium” at the Lear Theater on First Street.

The Project’s contributors include the Eldorado Resort Casino as well as Junkee Clothing Exchange.

A multitude of statues will be installed in the coming week for the park, including “Imago,” a large butterfly sculpture by Kirsten Berg and a mural by Joe C. Rock.

The Project has had support from the City of Reno in the form of a $5,000 grant from the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.

Partridge said The Gateway Project is looking to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 for payment to the artists whose art will be featured at the park and for installation costs.

The area the park will be residing in was once a couple of “blighted” motels. The City of Reno paid $217,000 from its blight fund to demolish the structures.

The money is in the form of a loan that the owners of the property will eventually have to pay back, albeit without any interest.

The approval of the demolition and eventual demolition came after developer HabeRae offered to buy the entire block for $1.2 million in cash, which Northern Nevada Development Co., the owners of the property, refused. HabeRae then upped the offer to $2.4 million, but to no avail. HabeRae planned on building affordable housing on the property.

RPAP is also a recipient of Burning Man’s Global Art Grant. The grant is given to institutions that wish to bring interactive art to communities across the world.

Burning Man has previously collaborated on another temporary installations in Reno. The Mangrove was an installation on Sierra Street, much like what will be seen with RPAP. The installation consisted of a group of tree sculptures from five different artist collectives.

The Gateway Project eventually found the space, which Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve intended to be a cultural fixture, after Partridge heard about the space opening up while on the Arts and Culture Commission.

The installation was originally intended for the Lear Theater but eventually found its place where the Golden West Motor Lodge and Heart o’Town motels once sat.

Blake Nelson can be reached at or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.