Reno Motels Demolished for New Apartments - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno Motels Demolished for New Apartments

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It seemed like it took less than an hour, and just like that they were gone. Today, the former Silver Spur, the Westerner and the Dutch Wife motels on West 4th joined other former tourist stops like downtown's Golden West Motor Lodge and the Heart O' Reno…motels that lost their charm and viability decades ago. The West 4th motels have had a fast decline in the six months they've been closed. Mayor Hillary Schieve told us, "It’s become very concerning. As you can see, a lot of the infrastructure has been ripped out of it. We found needles up here." Before he started breaking down the motels, Diversified Demolition president Ken Mercurio agreed: "You know a lot of people have broken in and have inhabited it, and when they do this there are a lot of dangers."

In the mid 1990's these motels were barely getting by, when their 85 rooms began a second life as cheap apartments when Wildflower Village was in business. That closed six months ago. What's replacing them will be 164 new apartments built by developer Blake Smith. As he told us, "We've got a modern product, one that I think the people will really enjoy."

Smith says what will replace Wildflower Village will be a huge upgrade: "They'll be high-end units on here. We actually have 8 acres of land here. It’s a larger project than it appears. There'll be 164 luxury units on here."

The city would like to see more of what happened today. They have a whole campaign, called the “Blight Buster Initiative" to do more of this. Mayor Schieve says, “It’s been a priority of this city council, and you're going to see more projects like this for weeks and months to come."

But here in Reno, things are not quite so simple with these motels. While the city would like to level the old structures, rent for the new apartments will no doubt be higher than what Wildflower Village charged. Tearing down our cheap old housing poses a problem for residents who can't afford Reno's fast-rising cost of housing. The answer? Schieve says it’s, "Looking at development and saying 'You have to put in a certain percentage of work force housing, so that the people who work up here can live up here!'" Is there such a percentage at this new project on West 4th? Schieve says no. “But that's what the city council will be implementing in some of these ordinances to come."

Home prices have doubled in the past five years beyond what the average family here can afford, and rents continue to climb. Developer Smith says rents for this project, which so far has no name, have not been decided on. But one thing's for sure…it will certainly improve the looks of this long-battered section of west 4th Street. Smith expects his new project to be open for business by fall of next year.

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