UNR Prepares to Demolish Homes to Expand
University officials say they will begin tearing down buildings, south of campus, to allow for expansion.
The University of Nevada, Reno is getting set to expand into the Gateway Precinct. The plan is to build a parking garage, a College of Business, a Life Sciences Building and two additional buildings. The new business building will replace the Ansari Business Building, which would free up space for other departments.
"What that allows us to do is to empty some spaces in the heart of campus and then many other colleges will also have opportunities for additional space," Dr. Marc Johnson, University of Nevada President said.
The university has been trying to expand into the Gateway Precinct for five years. Johnson says it is finally time to start the project. The next step is demolishing the existing buildings. They occupy approximately a block-and-and-a-half between between Lake Street and the alley west of Center Street.
"I think you will see demolition starting this summer to clear the area and we've got designers already engaged and designing the buildings," Johnson said. "So we'll probably see construction in a year to 15 months."
One of the hang-ups was the six historical houses in the area. Crews already moved one house to another property. Three others are under contract to move by December.
"The other two don't have owners and we're no longer trying to move them," Johnson said. "Now it's time to raze all the buildings on that block-and-a-half, so that we can create building paths for the future."
Johnson says the demolition will end the controversy over the houses and allow the campus to expand. He says the buildings are needed to accommodate growth. More than 21,000 students attend UNR, and that requires more staff. Johnson says that requires more space.
"We've also really improved the nature of our research operations so we're currently renovating a lot of labs and we need to build additional labs," Johnson said.
Johnson says clearing the property will allow the school to move forward with fund-raising, which is needed since the state is not contributing to the project.
"Part of the timing on clearing this area has to do with making sure this area, that everyone knows what the future is on the houses and the buildings in that area," Johnson said.
Once crews break ground on the new buildings, Johnson says it could take 15-18 months before the building is finished. Johnson says the university owns all of the necessary property except the Jimmy John's restaurant. He says the plan is to eventually buy the building but there's no hurry. Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation Commission is in the process of acquiring the next door properties. It wants to use the land on the east side of Virginia Street, between 8th and 9th Streets to build a RAPID Transit Station. It will include bus lanes, sidewalks and curbs, lighting, landscaping and irrigation. It will require the demolition of the current buildings. RTC officials say it is helping the businesses relocate during the process.