Come on down

If you haven’t visited downtown lately, you owe it to yourself to check it out. There’s a lot happening, with new residents, new shopping and a new excitement about downtown Reno. We’re beginning to enjoy the fruits of our redevelopment efforts. Clearly, we have more to do, but the public and private investments made over the years are combining with the commitment of new stores, established businesses and the Reno Redevelopment Agency to make downtown a fun place to be.

One example is the Century Riverside 12 movie theater. We recently got the news that the theater performed very well during its first year, with at least 200,000 moviegoers and box office sales of $1.4 million. This is extraordinary for a new business in its first year, especially given that the movie industry has suffered a downturn nationally. Attendance was off 2.5 percent nationally, but in downtown Reno, it was up by 200,000.

The foot traffic brought to the river by the theater supports the new businesses that have sprouted up along the river corridor. Yes, Reno has a whole bunch of new businesses downtown, and if you haven’t seen them, you don’t know what you’re missing. Examples include Parasols on the Riverwalk and Gallery Cui-ui, both of which are located at the theater building. The Esoteric Coffee House and Gallery recently opened at the Parking Gallery across the street, along with the Mayberry Gallery. Downtown Reno has blossomed into a neighborhood of art galleries, specialty shops, coffee houses, theaters and salons. These small-business owners have invested more than money in the future of our community. They have contributed their own sweat and their visions of what Reno can become, and they’re making it happen.

And they’re not doing it alone. They have the help of the Reno Redevelopment Agency. Another grand success downtown is the agency’s partnership with Sierra Arts and Artspace Projects Inc. to save the historic, but previously vacant, Riverside Hotel, and convert it to the Riverside Artist Lofts. The lofts opened in November, and almost all are now leased. Some tenants now have art available at local galleries. The city’s Rink by the Arch downtown has also helped increase the foot traffic (or skate traffic) downtown. More than 30,000 people have visited the rink so far this year. That’s an increase of 17 percent over last year.

Clearly, the job isn’t finished. There are ideas out there for new developments on the Masonic block and along the south bank of the river, as well as the improvements planned for the entertainment core. But as of today, downtown looks and feels a whole lot better. Come on down and join the fun.