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Inside the Story: New life comes to downtown Reno in place of old Kings Inn

Crews work on 3rd Street Flats, which replaces the blighted building in downtown Reno that once housed Kings Inn Casino.

There is new life coming to downtown Reno. New life being built on the bones of the blighted Kings Inn.

In a city born on people taking chances, the longtime abandoned Kings Inn had no takers.

It was built in the casino boom of the 1970s, closed in the early '80s and sat boarded up and broken for 30 years.

Mayor Hillary Schieve remembers how hard it was to find someone to take a chance on the property.

"It was a huge struggle; people were sort of on the fence on if they should believe in Reno," she said.

Schieve was on the city council when former mayor Bob Cashell tagged the Kings Inn as the city's biggest eyesore.

That started to change in 2014, when Bentar Development out of Las Vegas bought it and partnered up with Basin Street Properties to try and make this place "fit for a king" once again.

"To be able to do what Mayor Cashell had as his number one blighted property and be able to develop that, it's fantastic from a development standpoint. It's what you want to be involved in," said Basin Street President Par Tolles.

Set to open in late summer, 3rd Street Flats will be a high-end apartment complex that will soon have 94 units spread out among 7 floors, along with retail space on the ground floor.

When he bought the building, Bentar Development's Chi-Chi Bengochea believed in order to make the project profitable, they had to work with what they had instead of tearing it down.

"Chi Chi was like, 'No, no, wait, this place is really well built and if we can preserve that, than it allows us to invest in all these other amenities that will capture this urban tenant, the young professional,'" Says Basin Street's spokesperson Mike Williams.

Timing was also key in striking a deal. Some have called it the Tesla effect, with the car maker and other high tech companies creating what many believe is an up and coming market for city-loving millennials.

Mayor Schieve said, "You're also seeing this big tech millennial movement, and this project speaks to that and will really kind of attract a more cosmopolitan type of feel in our city."

Tolles added, "Downtown is starting to get cool, and it is cool. People want to spend more time here."

Only time will tell if 3rd Street Flats is the momentum building project downtown Reno desperately needs.

This city has risen and fallen before, but developers say this time, it feels different.

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