West 2nd District - "Flat-out More Amazing"

There is a "redevelopment" plan in the works for the West 2nd Street area between Arlington Avenue on the east and Washington Street on the west. The north/south boundaries run from West 1st Street on the south to the train trench on the north. (See the Google Earth map which shows the district area outlined in red.) That is the area shown to a group of interested people on May 21 of this year by Colin Robertson and Don Clark, of the Don J. Clark Group. We walked around the entire district and were shown what buildings were going to be spared and what buildings would be destroyed. The tour confirmed the many newspaper articles written about the redevelopment plan and a simple Google search online will bring up several articles and web pages such as: http://www.downtownmakeover.com/West-Second-Street-District-Renderings and https://west2nddistrict.com/

Google Earth image of proposed West 2nd Street District
Image from Google Earth

I'll let you explore the plans online and read the various articles, look at the flashy interactive renderings, and visualize this hugely-ambitious project which is expected to take several years to complete. Some wording online describes the new district as "...Reno’s first mixed-use neighborhood," and the language of the project includes words like: wellness, wonder, vibrant, efficiency and togetherness. Also this: "The District is a state-of-the-art showcase, an urban demonstration zone, for systems and strategies that make life easier, greener, safer, and flat-out more amazing."

The West 2nd District is on the eastern edge of what was originally called Powning's Addition. (The area is now designated the Powning's Addition Conservation District.) C. C. Powning first surveyed the area in 1887 (and filed an amended survey in 1891), then lots were sold, one by one, to individuals who built their own modest houses, often adding porches and sheds and garages. It wasn't a district or a showcase or a zone; it was just a pleasant neighborhood with small, wood-framed houses dotting the lots. (See the second image of the 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, showing the many individual residences.) Brick houses in the area became common in the 1920s and 1930s and some of those houses still stand today. The neighborhood never stopped changing. From the 1950s through the 1970s, motor lodges sprang up along West 2nd Street, apartment buildings were built on West 1st and Ralston streets and West 2nd Street, and the Greyhound Bus Depot was built on Stevenson. In the neighborhood, there are old churches, a convenience store, a little mini-warehouse unit, some really questionable rental? structures, an historical social club, and the university's Warren-Nelson building, that has served many purposes since around 1960. The oldest building appears to be the Lane Brothers Fuel Company building on West 2nd Street (built around 1905), now owned by the university. It sounds like a multi-use neighborhood to me.

Page from 1906 Sanborn Map
Image courtsey of the Nevada Historical Society


Change is coming, and much of it is overdue. But, so we don't forget what this old, traditional Reno neighborhood looks like—a snapshot of more than a century of diverse, social and economy-driven change—here are some images you will see today if you walk the area, before the wrecking ball arrives. The first group of photos show buildings in the district that will be spared (Keepers), and the second group of photos (Casualties) show the buildings and lots that will be torn down and cleared for the "Flat-out more amazing" neighborhood to come.

[Thanks to Google Earth Pro, the Washoe County Assessor's Office, and the Nevada Historical Society for access to their Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. Also, at the time of the tour in May, the convenience store on the southeast corner of West 2nd and Ralston streets, and the two brick houses at 141 and 147 Ralston Street, were still involved in negotiations, so I can't say for sure that they'll be destroyed. Maybe someone can comment if this has been resolved.]


Hover your cursor over each thumbnail below to change images.


Hover your cursor over each thumbnail below to change images.

People in this conversation

  • Rosie Cevasco

    Thanks for capturing this moment in time, Kim. When these buildings are gone, they are gone.

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