by David Hughes
on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 at 11:16am.
The recession has hit downtown Reno in a crazy way and the trend is not exactly what Reno officials were looking for. They were working for a mix of housing, shops and restaurants to help the faultering casino industry. The reason for the downturn in casino gaming is the Indian casinos in California which are just about three hours away.
The problem is the elephant in the room, which was Nevada's real estate crash. Reno's downtown condo market has floundered. The biggest project downtown is the Montage which has 377 units and sits nearly empty and has been put on the auction block. There are some other condo projects downtown that are still selling units, like the Palladio. They think the idea of all the condo projects downtown was a great idea but just bad timing. What we're seeing now is a lot of empty-nesters selling their houses and buying condos downtown for a carefree lifestyle of not having to get in the car and drive everywhere. They can walk pretty much anywhere downtown, the river, Music Festival, shops etc.
Reno's downtown casinos are not doing well, but with the new river renovation and the new ballpark, with all the restaurants, bars, etc. going in it's going to certainly help the recovery of downtown Reno.
I think what we're seeing in downtown Reno is a new direction. The demand right now is for more restaurants, nightclubs and more entertainment. I definitely think with all the people coming downtown for entertainment whether it be the Music Festival, the river, restaurants, bars, etc. it's going to help the casinos and help downtown in becoming more of an entertainment district.
Chuck Schapiro, owner of the Wild River Grill at the Riverside, said that by renewing the product you can keep it fun and interesting. In this upcoming year he tends to offer more casual dining and live music.
The Reno Aces this year were trying to get 4500 people to each game, but what they actually got was more like 6500 people each game, which was way more than they were looking for. I think the success of the Aces will continue in 2010. The owner of the Aces is planning the renovation of the Freight District building which will be a combination of bars and restaurants with more unveiled plans for the Freight House, which is just north of the Aces stadium and will include a sports bar overlooking the playing field, a restaurant/music venue with the feel of an industrial loft.They will also have a beer garden with over 100 varieties of beer, and a high-end Mexican restaurant. Their target date for opening all this will be April of 2010.