UPPER SOUTH EAST COMMUNITIES COALITION, INC - Environmental Preservation Group in Washoe County
Open Forum/Comments

City Council Meeting May 8, 2013

F.2 McCarran Crossing - Manke Property - zoning map amendment to PUD
G.1 McCarran Center -  UNR 104 acres -  2nd reading, zoning map amendment to PUD - to monetize value of the land.
I strongly urge the Reno City Council not to rezone 104 acres of UNR farms along McCarran from Manke property to Clean Water Way for future commercial businesses and warehouses. 
When this area floods again there will be less Flood Storage due to these warehouses and commercial businesses.  There is no where to mitigate the water as this area is already surrounded by development.
This entire area is critical for Zone 1 flood storage.  No plans have been developed or disclosed about the impact of this development on flooding nor where the excess water will go.  There has been some reinforcement and height added to dikes to protect business in the Clearwater and Greg area.  This will just force waters to the south into residential areas.
In a desert state, this land is a remaining remnant of open space and wet lands.  One would think such a precious resource would be protected instead of used for a roadway. 
This land is the original land grant which was part of UNR, a land grant university.  The land can be used to promote agriculture, (think UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis agriculture programs and experimental farms which have added much revenue to California agriculture), ranching with expanded services, viniculture (think UC Davis and grape cultivation).  Yes, grapes grow in Nevada.  The Master Gardner land on Mill Street had some very good wine grapes. 
Reno already has many vacant retail and commercial warehouse and light industry spaces. See below the NAI and Grubb & Ellis report regarding vacancy rates in Reno.
The Tahoe Reno Industrial Park east of Reno on Highway 80 is largely vacant except for a few business the largest which is Walmart.  With this area largely vacant does it make sense to build more commercial space in Reno?
Building more retail and commercial space while Reno has such a high percentage of vacant buildings only encourages existing business to move out of existing spaces leaving behind blighted areas.  For such an example look at the Oddie St area.  Lowes moved to Legends in Sparks leaving behind a large vacant commercial space that will most likely remain vacant as the surrounding area continues its downward economic spiral.  Also look at Parkway Mall in the heart of Reno on Virginia St where the only existing building is a movie theatre. The land has been undeveloped for years.
With employment flat for the foreseeable future, does it really make sense to build more commercial and retail space when we already have too much vacant space of the same kind.  (See NAI report below).
Can't Reno supervisors, UNR, and business come up with a more enlightened, creative vision and plan for this land other than more of the same - warehouse and retail?  Every governor, representative, supervisor, and mayor has talked about job and sustainable economic diversification(something other than gambling, warehousing, retail, and construction) but we have seen little in that area other than Apple's Data Center which is out in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park.  Where is the vision for Reno?
According to the NAI Alliance Retail Market Report for First Quarter 2013 (This is only retail.  This does not include commercial warehouse.  I was unable to find a report on the vacancy rate in Reno for commercial and/or warehouse.)
"Total combined vacancy within the market now stands at 2,479,716 square feet. This is a substantial amount of vacant space that will take time to be absorbed.The market has even farther to recover today than in the 90’s. We really are in uncharted territory, but if the early 90’s are any indication, it could be at least 7 years before we see normalized vacancy rates again."  
"The two Nevada metros posted the steepest declines of all major U.S.markets with payrolls down 14.8 percent in Las Vegas and a jolting 17.3 percent in Reno.Market conditions were less hopeful in the region’s smaller markets. Albuquerque and Reno have seen no growth in jobs since the recession ended.In Reno, with vacancy of 17.1 percent and difficult financing conditions, new development will be negligible in 2012. Retailers are closing their doors at a slower pace, and the increase in vacancy is being mostly offset with new store openings. Reno will see the market bottoming by mid-2012, then starting to trend slightly upward.Reno’s investment market consisted mainly of user sales and bank foreclosures last year. No significant upward trend is expected in 2012. The industrial sector is attractive to e-commerce companies seeking tax advantages, opening up some investment opportunities." http://www.grubb-ellis.com/Forecast2012/PDFs/GRE-FC2012-full.pdf 
Thank you for your time and consideration. 
Dale and Mary Anderson

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