Harrah’s takes a bite out of Reno | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Harrah’s takes a bite out of Reno

by Sally J. Taylor

In a purchasing swoop, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. has possession of an entire city block in downtown Reno but is uncertain what it will do with that chunk of real estate.

The company, which also owns Harrah’s Tahoe, announced the purchase of Nevada Club and Harolds Club last week. The two casinos are adjacent to Harrah’s Reno on South Virginia Street.

“We view these two properties as critical pieces to our future strategy for Harrah’s Reno,” said Phil Satre, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.’s chairman and chief operating officer.

“We are in the midst of master planning our Harrah’s Reno property with Marnell Carrao Associates, and we will now incorporate this real estate into that process. I would expect the master plan will not include remodeling these two buildings but rather extending the Harrah’s Reno property onto this additional real estate with added casino attractions and amenities.”

Not remodeling does not automatically mean demolition, explained Keri Garcia, communications manager for Harrah’s Reno.

“It’s vague because we don’t know. At this time, we’re looking at several possibilities,” Garcia said.

The block-sized project, whatever it will be, will be tied to the city’s redevelopment plans for a “big and grand downtown,” Garcia said.

“We need to see how we fit into that.”

The city’s downtown Entertainment Core Project includes 33 blocks and is the second of its planned redevelopment projects – the first is the Riverfront Project that broke ground last fall.

The city has been courting developer David Cordish, known for his Baltimore Harbor project, to design an as yet unspecified anchor development for downtown.

It could be anything from a sports arena to a civic center, said Chris Good, spokesman for the Reno Redevelopment Agency.

Talks with Cordish look “promising,” he said.

Another aspect of the city’s plan, the sinking of 2.1 miles of railroad track through downtown, could have a direct impact on Harrah’s block, which is just south of the tracks. The environmental impact study has just begun for that portion of the $200 million project.

The railroad project is farther along the road to implementation than other aspects of the downtown plan, which is expected to revitalize the economy in the coming years.

Satre believes the city of Reno needs to preserve its core casino entertainment economies and simultaneously stimulate progress in order to compete in today’s tourism industry. He expects Harrah’s project, however it evolves, will enhance that goal.

“Harrah’s has been and remains committed to Reno and to the renaissance of its downtown,” said Harrah’s Satre. “Bill Harrah played a big part in the birth of The Biggest Little City In The World. Now, the company he founded would like to play an important role in his town’s revitalization.”

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