Planners of Chinese workers museum have a mountainous task before them: Project directors seek public land to build proposed $50 million facility | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Planners of Chinese workers museum have a mountainous task before them: Project directors seek public land to build proposed $50 million facility

Becky Bosshart

A plan to build a $50 million museum – including a design for a six-story glass “mountain” – on public land in east Carson City hinges on state or federal approval. Without it, the museum directors will be looking for a new location.

The project hasn’t yet been brought before the Bureau of Land Management for discussion, said Chuck Pope, BLM assistant field manager.

“We’ve just received the map from (architect) Art Hannafin showing what they’re interested in,” Pope said. “We have to go through the BLM process and I don’t know how long that will take.”

Khan Tung, senior associate with Hannafin Design, said the 30 acres off Brunswick Canyon and Deer Run roads is a preferred location for the 250,000-square-foot museum. The conical structure is designed to represent a gold mountain – a prosperity dream for the early Chinese immigrants who came to mine gold and silver. Silver panels would spiral up to the top.

Originally planned for Reno along the Truckee River, museum directors decided to look elsewhere for land after they saw the cost: about $6 million. The museum steering committee – which includes state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno; Gov. Kenny Guinn and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. – decided the museum might be better suited for public land.

The committee has the option of seeking a recreation and public purpose lease agreement with the BLM, or acquiring the parcel through a state lands bill. The latter option would be more time consuming because it would have to be granted by Congress.

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Pope said the museum committee would have to submit a development plan and application to the BLM to receive a lease for public land. The process could be prolonged depending on the complexity of the plan and what clearances are required. The lease could come at no cost, or reduced cost, depending on the use.

Hannafin and Tung, who are the project’s directors, said the museum will be a tribute to the workers who helped build the V&T Railroad and settle the West, but who were then excluded from the American dream. The design includes the conical structure flanked by two six-story buildings designed to resemble ancient Chinese fortifications.

City Manager Linda Ritter said the city already has public purpose leases on several parcels, such as Edmonds Sports Complex and Centennial Park.

Some are highly optimistic about this option.

“I believe BLM will be very cooperative,” said Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira. “I think we have a definite plan and we can show this is doable. Why wouldn’t they cooperate?”

Ritter said acquiring the property through the state lands bill would be time consuming. It could be a year before Carson City completes it.

If approved by the feds, the governmental agency or nonprofit group would be given the land for a public use, Ritter said.