Carson City leaders see it as tech, arts center
November 18, 2009
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Carson City supervisors have authorized a study of how much it would cost to turn eight acres of parking lots around the Carson Nugget casino into a downtown technology plaza.
Mayor Bob Crowell said the idea is to revitalize downtown with a knowledge center and discovery library, digital media lab and a business and technology incubator. The goal is to attract a highly-educated work force and improving the quality of life in the area.
“We are looking at Carson City as a cross between the arts and culture of Los Angeles and the technology of Silicon Valley, with the ability of situating a business in a state capital with a pretty good quality of life,” he said.
Local businesses in the downtown area have been receptive to the idea.
“What this does is really ignite our community,” said Karen Abowd, co-owner of Adele’s restaurant. “It would give us an economic boost which is very much needed.”
The project would be a partnership between the city and private businesses, said Tammy Westergard, deputy manager of the Carson City Office of Business Development. She said she hoped it could be completed in five years.
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Nearly $400,000 for the project has been pledged by the trust of the late Mae B. Adams, a former Nugget co-owner.
The eight acres of parking was donated by the trust because of the educational and career opportunities the plan would offer, said Steven Neighbors of Boise, Idaho, vice president of the Carson Nugget and conservator of the Adams trust.
“Mae Adams was not known for giving things away,” Neighbors said. “But she was always willing to use her assets to help people.”
City officials have decided Carson City’s future should be focused on economic development and not tourism, Westergard said.
“The focus here is on the residents, in a long term and sustainable way, and not to force us to wait for the economy to make extra pennies available from visitors,” she said.
A new Carson City Library would take center stage in the development, changing the mission of the facility from “a traditional library to a knowledge and discovery center,” Crowell said.
“It would be an anchor institution, and create a digital center for all things digital and also to build a technology and business incubator,” he said.
Even with the Adams trust contributions, public financing would be necessary to complete the deal, city officials said. But the mayor said a tax increase would not necessarily be required.