Developers that recently acquired dozens of properties in downtown Reno to build the so-called 'Neon Line District' are now asking city officials for millions in subsidies to make it a reality.
Jacobs Entertainment, which owns the Sands Regency and Gold Dust West casinos, has purchased numerous properties in the 4th St. corridor west of Virginia St. with the hopes of building a $1 billion mixed-use development.
But this week, developers are expected to ask city council members to approve over $23 million in public financing to make the new district come to life.
According to the proposed agreement posted online, Jacobs Entertainment will ask officials to sell two city-owned properties, valued at $3.06 million, for $50,000.
Jacobs Entertainment also wants the city to create a new 'tax increment financing district,' under which developers would be entitled to as much as $20 million.
City staff wrote the proposal could transform 'a blighted area into a vibrant urban center with quality public facilities, new urban housing, increased economic activity, and additional tax revenue to the City over time.'
But staffers also warned that choosing not to sell the two city-owned properties at market value would divert funding from the new public safety center, the Moana Pool and city hall earthquake retrofit.
City council members are expected to debate the proposal during their regular meeting Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.
The 20-year proposal lays out the ambitious goals of the Neon Line District: renovation of the Sands Regency Hotel Casino, 2,000-3,000 residential units, a 6,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and other commercial, retail and entertainment spaces.
Jacobs Entertainment has already installed several pieces of art and neon signs along 4th St. and converted an old motel into the Renova Flats apartment complex.
Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus told News 4-Fox 11 said the developer's requests were 'highly unusual.'
It's bigger than anything I've ever seen and I've focused on these for over 20 years.
"They want to buy city property at highly discounted rates. They want city streets. They want relief from a lot of regulations and fees and then they want some of the taxes that they create, both property and sales tax," Brekhus said.
Brekhus questioned whether agreeing to the proposal would prevent the city from focusing on other projects and services.
"The question that I'm scratching my head about is. Why them? Why now? Why would we do this? We're a low tax burden state so we don't have a lot of money to give up and if we give it up we can't do the essential services that we have to provide to our growing population.
A spokesperson for Jacobs Entertainment said the company was not available for comment on the plans.
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