City of Reno releases draft of downtown action plan

The city of Reno has released a draft of a proposed downtown action plan, one that would aim to address issues preventing the area from growing.

The action plan, created by the Progressive Urban Management Associates, or PUMA, divides downtown into three categories: economy, environment and experience. Those three categories provide possible actions that could improve downtown, the report states.

"As the region has begun to rebound [from the Great Recession], investment has not been quick to come to the urban core," the report states.

PUMA said it found through a survey of nearly 1,000 Reno residents that downtown "is not perceived as safe," due in part to homelessness, transiency, blighted properties and public safety.

One of its largest recommendations is the creation of what it calls a Downtown Management Organization, which PUMA says would give the private sector more influence to market the area and work with the city.

The report finds that housing demand is growing in central Reno, but not in the downtown area. It recommends potential strategies like putting a housing development between midtown and downtown and investing in amenities for downtown living.

It also notes that the University of Nevada, Reno is a "major economic driver of both new housing and employment demand." Possible actions to take advantage could include designating a student district to bridge the university with downtown and midtown Reno.

The third recommendation is to diversify tourism draws, which could include addressing the downtown area's "cleanliness and safety issues" and promoting arts and culture.

The action plan includes possible sources of revenue to help fund its recommendations, including revamped parking technology, using tax increment financing, and new taxing on marijuana and liquor specifically in the downtown district.

It also recommends funding the Downtown Management Organization by using the funding for existing downtown initiatives for policing and maintenance.

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