City of Reno and University partner to support, enhance downtown

Proposed lease-to-purchase of City building would provide downtown presence for University of Nevada, Reno; convenient hub for community and business outreach

11/1/2013 - By: Staff Report
Sinclair Building

A proposed lease-to-purchase of a 25,000 square-foot office building, currently owned by the City of Reno, would give the University of Nevada, Reno a downtown Reno presence and provide a convenient location for business- and community-oriented outreach services. The proposal is a tangible example of the commitment by the City of Reno and the University to collaboratively support the vibrancy and economic health of downtown Reno. It will be considered by the Reno City Council at its Nov. 6 meeting and, if approved, the proposal will return to the Council's Nov. 20 meeting for hearing. The proposal must also be approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents and is slated for consideration at its Dec. 5-6 meeting.

Located at 450 Sinclair Street in Reno's emerging "Midtown" district, the building is approximately 1.25 miles from the University's main campus and three blocks from Reno's City Hall. The City of Reno recently relocated its Community Development Department to the City Hall leaving the Sinclair building vacant.  

"The City of Reno continues to focus on the key priority of promoting a sustainable and vibrant economy," Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger said. "Having the University grow and expand from up on the hill to the heart of Reno further enhances the 'University Town' initiative that falls under that priority." 

"We envision an opportunity to create a convenient, easy-to-access hub for community and business outreach programs at this location," University President Marc Johnson said. "This facility would bring the knowledge and resources of the University into downtown Reno and underscore our firm commitment to engage with our community."

The terms of the proposed agreement call for a 14-year lease with annual payments by the University to the city of $134,900.

"As the City continues to battle financial constraints, we have to embrace efficient, innovative and collaborative solutions. Re-purposing an existing and currently vacant building with a focus on business and community services is a win for our entire community," Clinger said.

"The building has been well maintained and is in good condition," Ron Zurek, vice president finance and administration said. "This, plus the seller-financing proposed by the City of Reno, contributes to the appeal of this opportunity."

Economic development and community engagement are the overarching missions and are guiding the planning for services at the potential new University facility. A number of options are being conceptualized including a pre-college application center, a satellite center for business development resources and an innovation center to support development of advanced manufacturing, autonomous systems and "big data" analytics. Because the building is located across the street from the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum, it is well positioned for linkages to activities and programs with K-12 students.  Faculty and administrators with the College of Engineering and College of Business are among those expressing a high level of interest for locating services in the Sinclair building. 

Nevada Industry Excellence has also expressed interest in co-locating at the site. Nevada Industry Excellence is a statewide Manufacturing Extension Partnership that works directly with Nevada companies to strengthen their competitiveness by providing information, decision support and assistance in adopting new, more advanced technologies, techniques and best business practices.

"This facility would be a tangible indication of the University's commitment to contribute to business success and community well-being," Johnson said. "We are fortunate to have city and economic development officials embracing the connection between our future economy and the University and so fully focused on the success of both."


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