The Reno City Council will mull whether to sell off two swaths of land at a prices below market value to help fund the construction of a new $23 million police headquarters.
At issue are several parcels of former Union Pacific Railroad land that have been owned by the city since the completion of the train trench project in 2006.
At its meeting Wednesday, the council will decide whether to sell three parcels of land on Chism Street to a neighboring landowner who operates a wedding and event space formerly known as the Chism House.
Under the deal, the city would sell the land for $450,000, about $200,000 less than the most recent appraised value.
The city tried to sell the land to the Chism House owners in 2015, but the sale was delayed by negotiations with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the State Historic Preservation Office over a conservation easement on the site. Human remains had been found in the area during the construction of the train trench.
At the time the land was appraised at $450,000, a price city staff said the city should honor now.
“Staff believes this is reasonable since the delay of the sale of these parcels has been due to the inability of the city to obtain the requisite conservation easement and monitoring agreement,” the staff report said.
Council will also decide whether to negotiate a sales agreement with Reno-based Greenstreet Companies, which wants to build a senior housing complex on land on the south side of the train trench between Washington and Vine streets.
The company has offered to buy the land for $625,000, which the city described as below market value. However, the city doesn’t have a current appraisal for the land so it’s uncertain how much a discount Greenstreet would be getting.
Under its proposal, Greenstreet would build 160 units, which would be affordable to seniors making 60 percent or less of the area’s median income.
“Although directly adjacent to the train tracks and, therefore, not the most desirable for multifamily development, we believe we can construct an attractive senior affordable housing project in which we can all be proud,” Greenstreet wrote in its proposal.
The developer also applied for a deferral of the project’s sewer connection and building permit fees under the city’s “1,000 homes in 120 days” program.
Proceeds from both land transactions would go to help fund the city’s $22 million police headquarters project. In July, the city bought the Reno Gazette Journal building on Kuenzli Street for $7 million.
It anticipates spending an estimated $16 million to remodel the building and is planning to borrow between $5 million and $10 million to finance the project.
Editor’s note: This story was edited to correct the name of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Anjeanette Damon is the government watchdog reporter for the RGJ. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @AnjeanetteDamon. If you care about shining a bright light on decisions made by your elected officials, please consider subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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