Nevada System of Higher Education board approved the University of Nevada, Reno’s seven resolutions to begin designing and construction in the Gateway Precinct on Friday, June 7.
The three buildings to first be designed and constructed in this district include a new business complex, life sciences building and parking garage.
“This is a turning point for the University of Nevada, Reno,” said President Marc Johnson. “Back in the entire year of 2014, we worked on the 10-year updated master plan. We worked very closely with the City of Reno and the original Transportation Commission to design a plan, which would move the campus south toward Downtown and Midtown to make this a true university town. Part of that master plan called for the development of blocks south of Ninth Street. I want to thank the Board of Regents, the UNR Foundation, our donors and our real-estate office for all of the effort put in facilitating the acquisition of these properties and clearing these properties so we can move ahead with the development of the properties for academic buildings.”
The Gateway District refers to 12 historic houses built between the 1890s and 1970s located on the south edge of campus. The houses are planned to be relocated or destroyed for university expansion south toward I-80. One house has been relocated and three others have relocation contracts—the other nine are likely to be destroyed, according to Reno-Gazette Journal.
The University was approved to begin the projects for the new business building, the life science building and the parking garage. The new business building project will cost approximately $111 million with 108,000 square feet. The university plans to start construction Summer 2021 and will be completed Summer 2023. The business building is being designed by Collaborative Design Studio and Robert A.M. Stern Architect and being contracted by Gilbane. The new parking garage is planned to be available in Summer 2021 and will house between 700 and 1,000 cars.
President Johnson hopes the new business buildings location will allow it to become more interactive with the community. He also revealed the current biology and agriculture building, built in the 1950s, cannot be renovated for modern laboratories.
“As the University’s physical campus extends out into the community, it’s a natural fit for the College of Business to occupy a building that will better allow University students and resources to connect with and welcome northern Nevada businesses,” said Greg Mosier, Dean of the University’s College of Business, to Facilities Services. “The new building will further symbolize the regional commitment to bringing a diverse range of industries to northern Nevada and it also highlights the University’s commitment to providing highly educated students who can fill positions within these industries.”
President Johnson was approved for amending the Gateway Precinct approval in March 2015. He said it had a sketchy development of the gateway properties. President Johnson announced UNR has worked with the Board of Regents and real estate to accelerate the acquisition of gateway properties. The University has worked with an architect to come up with some designs for the first three buildings.
The new buildings will meet the designs of the rest of campus and the historic tree on Ninth and Center Street will be preserved.
NSHE will allow the University to go to City Council to request the abandonment of a block-long alleyway between Center and Lake Street. President Johnson announced the university owns all the property on the alleyway.
President Johnson’s request to be allowed to use $12 million dollars internal funds for redesign and preparatory work was accepted by NSHE. The University plans to reimburse themselves out of the financing plans which come along with each of the new buildings. Each plan will be brought to the NSHE board for approval.
The University was authorized to spend around $1.2 million dollars in capital improvement and administrative fees, which have been accumulated from academic buildings.
President Johnson was also permitted to accept the property in the gateway district from UNR Foundation.
Before being approved, NSHE Vice President, Jason Geddes, wants Johnson to recognize the heritage of the housing being moved or removed through a design in the buildings.
During public comment, a woman discussed her concerns with the Gateway project.
“I am asking for a postponement on all the historic houses on that gateway can be relocated,” said a Washoe County resident and UNR graduate to NSHE. “My personal journey began 52 years ago. When I walked past those wonderful houses to get to classes as a freshman. It was a magical and inspiring walk. The one place in town the future connected with the past. It has made me connected with this University. I am realistic and know traditions die. Today with a sad heart, I will bid farewell with my tradition on my last walk down Center Street. My concern is that I’ll be now disconnected from this institution and [NSHE], the governing body, will not care. Be aware, every time you make a move that members of the community do not want, a certain percentage of that community will disconnect. It won’t hurt the University because the wealthy and influential will always be on your side, but people like me. The unimportant, the unknown, will always be here. We will be watching. We are the historians, the preservationist, the researchers, educators.”
Taylor Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.