Public comments sought on dream downtown

Narrowing Carson Street through downtown is just one of the ideas Carson City development officials have proposed to make the historic district more pedestrian-friendly in an effort to transform a thoroughfare into a destination.

In an event city officials billed as a "professionally directed design studio" meant to act as a public forum, visitors will be able to walk through 3-D simulations of how the city looks now, versus how it could look with various aesthetic changes.

The two-day event culminates with a Thursday evening "reveal ceremony," which will give a snapshot of the most popular ideas showcased.

"We are definitely interested in the progress of what's going on down there," said Scott Johnson, co-owner of Stew's Sportatorium at the Lucky Spur. "We've heard great ideas coming out of the administration."

Stew's, 302 N. Carson St., is the most recently completed downtown redevelopment project. Johnson favors narrowing Carson Street through downtown to two lanes, widening the sidewalks, and adding more landscaping.

"Right now, the downtown corridor is not conducive to pedestrian traffic," he said. "Motor traffic is so close to the sidewalk. In my opinion, it makes people uncomfortable."

Joe McCarthy, city economic development and redevelopment manager, said Monday that those who attend the Wednesday and Thursday event will see how downtown would look with wider sidewalks, more benches and buildings with different height restrictions. They will see an urban village.

"This is an opportunity for citizens to come and exercise their feeling on how downtown should look after the freeway is built," he said. "This is not a brain child of public officials. The community asked for this type of event."

The first phase of the Carson City freeway, from North Carson Street at Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 East, will open to motorists in April. Construction on the next phase, from Highway 50 to Fairview Drive, will begin in 2006 and planned to be completed in 2008. That length would bypass downtown, thus easing truck and commuter traffic.

After comments are received, officials will tally the costs associated with the redevelopment and how they can be phased in.

"We'll bite off what we can afford as we move forward," McCarthy said.

The public works projects, such as narrowing the street and adding landscaping, would be city funded, with the goal of attracting private investment, such as entertainment venues and dense residential developments.

McCarthy said he's also hoping the event won't be sidetracked by special interests.

"The effort and the hope is that it is an inclusive project, not the project of a small group," he said.

McCarthy said the results of the event will be the first "snapshot" that the city would have to show for years of work.

"This is an ambitious project, and the public deserves to see an end result within the next five years," he said.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

If You Go

What: Community Challenge: Help Select Carson City's New Downtown public forum

Presented: By Envision Carson City downtown public forum

Where: 301 N. Carson St. (Garibaldi's former location)

When: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, followed by the Reveal Ceremony, which will wrap up the results of the effort

What you can do

Take a "virtual walk" through 3-D simulations of potential designs for Carson City's downtown then share your thoughts on each option.

Topics to be covered

Existing property conditions, property boundaries, storm drainage, utilities, development codes, parking, historical preservation, sidewalk amenities, streetscape improvements.


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