Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
The big news in Northern Nevada this week, now widely reported, is that Harrah’s Reno has been sold to CAI Investments, a real estate investment company that plans to convert that resort into a non-gambling property with hundreds of apartments and extensive space for retail, recreation and offices. The idea is that it will become the new Reno City Center.
Something like this was probably inevitable. Harrah’s has struggled in recent years. The whole industry of gambling has never fully recovered from the Great Recession, and, locally, Harrah’s has had a harder time keeping up, rebranding to appeal to shifting demographics, than some of the other resorts in the valley.
In fact, part of the appeal, in recent years, of a night out in Harrah’s was the old-school flavor of the place. There’s the old-school steak house and the old-school showroom. Going out to those places was a peek back into the glory days of Reno’s mid-century casino heyday. Hopefully, spots like Harrah’s Steakhouse and Sammy’s Showroom survive more or less intact as the property moves into its new phase, but you might want to start planning your next visit now.
And I sympathize with the dealers, pit bosses, bartenders and waitresses who are about to be laid off. This will be a tough transition, and it really signifies the end of an era.
Still, I think overall it’s good news. The biggest problem in this community right now is the lack of affordable housing, and the current plan will lead to more than 500 new apartments popping up right smack in the urban core, in a historic property with great built-in amenities.
I’m so glad that plan isn’t to just tear it down in order to build a plaza on which to put a couple of cheesy sculptures and the occasional ice rink.