Historic building stands in front of lawn

Andrea Wilkinson/Nevada Sagebrush              The Nevada Historic Building as it stands on Monday, Dec. 3. The University of Nevada, Reno, proposed trading the Nelson Building with the Nevada Historic Society in the Board of Regents meeting on Friday, Nov. 30.

At the Board of Regents meeting in Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, proposed the trade of the Nevada Historical Building, along with a few other parcels of land and a cash payment. In return, the Nevada Historical Society will get the Nelson Building, located at 401 West Second Street.

“The University of Nevada, Reno is seeking Board of Regents approval to sell/trade real property located at 401 West Second Street Reno, NV (known as the Nelson Building), to Nevada State Lands in exchange for the Nevada Historical Building located on UNR Main Campus, a portion of APN# 003-361-55, and a cash payment, and to allow the Chancellor or Designee to sign all necessary sale or trade related documents,” said the Board of Regents Briefing Paper.

The Board of Regents approved the proposal for the trade, allowing the university to obtain the Nevada Historical Building, 2.68 acres of land owned by Nevada State Lands and a cash payment of $773,625. The cash payment, along with the cost of the building and the lands equaled the appraised value of the Nelson Building of $4.5 million.

“UNR will occupy the Historic Society Building, the Historic Society will move to the Nelson Building downtown which gives them plenty of growth space and we’ll get a couple parcels of land that are really on our campus  but have never been transferred over from the State of Nevada,” said Director of Real Estate Troy Miller. “And the difference — there was a little bit more value that the Nelson Building — will be made up in cash by the Historic Society.”

According to the Briefing Paper, the Board of Regents’ approval of the sale of the Nelson Building on West Second Street is not the last step before the transaction can be concluded. To be approved, the Interim Finance Committee and the State of Nevada Board of Examiners must approve as well. The IFC approval is expected in February 2019 and the Board of Examiners will be presented the proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

The Nelson Building is mostly empty and is not in use, meaning the university will move out the remainder of the items in that building for the Nevada Historical Society to move in, according to Miller. Once the Nevada Historical Society is moved out of the Nevada Historical Building on the northern end of the campus, the university will use the cash payment to renovate the building into offices.

Miller foresees the switching of occupancies will take a full year.

“The whole transition will probably take all of 2019,” Miller said. “ I don’t foresee that happening before the end of the year.”

The parcels are located on the north end of campus. The first is at the corner of Enterprise Road and Evans Avenue. The second runs along North McCarran directly north of the School of Medicine.

The Nevada Historical Society plans to use the Nelson Building to expand their organization.

“The Historic Society needed to grow, so they contacted us to tell us that they needed a place to grow and we had a building for sale downtown that they thought might work and they had a building on campus that they had a 99-year lease on but they were outgrowing that building,” Miller said.

The 22,860 square foot building owned by the Nevada Historical Society was given on a Land Lease by the Board of Regents. The Land Lease was to be 99 years long and was to expire in 2066. The lease detailed that the university’s grounds department would upkeep the land around the building. Signed in 1967, the lease stated the Nevada Historical Society would pay the university one dollar a year to maintain this lease.

The proposed trade with the Nevada Historical Society is not the first attempt to remove the Nelson Building from university ownership. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the university had a deal in 2016 to sell the Nelson Building to the Don J Clark Group for $7 million.

The Don J Clark Group planned to create a 17 acre “West 2nd District” in downtown Reno, with the location of the Nelson Building accounting for 1.6 acres of it. However, the deal fell through in 2017 and the university kept the group’s $700,000 deposit.

Olivia Ali can be reached at oali@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @OliviaNAli.