Good news/bad news on Carson auto mall

That no auto mall has developed in the last two years is one of those good news/bad news deals: Good that auto dealers haven't moved to Douglas County, bad that the situation remains in flux in Carson City.

We're still optimistic some kind of plan will evolve, especially since city supervisors decided it was in taxpayers' best interest to invest future sales-tax dollars in the auto dealerships.

The reality is that the auto dealers are a major force in generating retail-sales revenues in Carson City, up to a third of all the sales over the course of a year. That's a rather astonishing statistic.

The incentives created by the supervisors - only Dick Campagni has signed up so far - loan a car dealer the capital to relocate and expand. The loan is repaid partly by the sales-tax dollars generated by the expanded dealership.

Critics can argue it's a city giveaway. But you can't give away what you don't have, and if car dealerships move out of Carson or flounder then the city never sees those tax dollars. It's not a giveaway; it's an investment.

If they don't move out, great .... But did city supervisors want to take the chance, especially after Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer bought 144 acres across the county line? No, they did not.

Unfortunately, the promise to keep their dealerships in Carson expired earlier this month. So now the city's operating on faith.

The other reality is that relocating auto dealerships and making sizable land deals inside the city can be a long and tricky endeavor. The best opportunity now is 13 acres owned by the state, the former site of the Nevada National Guard.

State officials need a compelling reason to sell the property to Carson City just to have the city sell it to a developer, but we think the case can be made on economic-development grounds.

Surely, there's a good-neighbor factor too. Nobody owns as much land in the heart of Carson City's business district as the state of Nevada. It's in the state's interest to see it thrive.


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