The University of Nevada, Reno has notified three respondents that they have been chosen to be the new owners of 12 historic houses in the UNR Gateway District.

In a statement sent to us from Kerri Garcia, the UNR Director of Communications, she said in part quote, “Once contracts are final, we will provide more details on the transfer of ownership and future plans for the houses.”

Garcia expects the contracts to be finalized in two to three weeks.

In an email sent to the Truckee Meadows Heritage trust, the message names the three respondents as Common Ground Urban Development, Tim and Nancy Gilbert and Jerry and Beth Krug.

Common Ground Urban Development, who's based out of San Francisco, will be awarded 10 of the 12 homes.

In a statement from Mindy Bacharach, Senior Development Associate with Common Ground Urban Development, she said in part quote, "Common Ground Urban Development will release the community engagement plan and look forward to working closely with the Historic Reno Preservation Society and other community members to make sure that the homes are treated with respect to their historical context."

According to Bacharach, Common Ground Urban Development fully support's efforts to relocate the homes to another location in Reno. She added that their current proposal is to possibly bring the houses to a property owned by Burning Man, but not necessarily Fly Ranch.

The university wants to build on about a block-and-a-half of its property between campus and Interstate 80.

The university has been planning the expansion for about four years but there is still some work left to do before crews break ground. The student population is growing and officials say the campus has to grow to accommodate that growth.

"We need academic buildings, large-scale academic buildings and also parking," Heidi Gansert, UNR Executive Director of External Relations said. "We also want to make sure that there's access to the park."

The university's plans would replace a block-and-a-half from Jimmy John's, about a block west of Center Street, to Evans Park on Lake Street.
The first concept would include four new buildings including a college of business, along with a parking garage. The second plan would have six buildings but the park would move across the street and be replaced by the parking structure.

"The university has been able to purchase almost all the parcels there, so we're ready to move forward," Gansert said.

A private developer has plans to build student housing between Record Street and Evans Avenue. That could require a portion of Evans Ave. to close and be re-routed.

The university is working with RTC to find the best way to handle the traffic and pedestrians that will impact the development.

"We've been so happy to work with the city over the years and with the Regional Transportation Commission on what this vision can be and better connecting to the city both on behalf of our students but also the broader community," Gansert said.

One of the biggest hang-ups is what to do with six historical houses. Some would like them to stay put or move a couple of blocks to the east in Evans Park.

"Having really a heritage park where people could shop, could hang out, provide services, maybe even stay at a bed and breakfast that would service the university guests might be a really terrific idea,” Naomi Duerr, Reno City Councilwoman said.

The university is giving the homes away as long as applicants have the land and the means to move them.
Partnering with the city, Washoe County and the state to move them was too expensive.

"The cost to move them and renovate them was extremely high," Gansert said. "It was almost a half-million dollars per house. So that's when we decided to go ahead and open it up to the public."

The period for people to apply to move the historical houses ended at 5pm, Thursday. Gansert says once the houses are relocated, the university can begin raising money for the College of Business. The ground-breaking could happen within a year or two.