Jacobs Entertainment is debuting its first floor housing development in the Reno Neon Line District as it opens a new apartment complex on Tuesday.
Named “245 North Arlington,” the project will add 60 apartments to downtown Reno. It’s also adding residents within the Reno Neon Line, which CEO Jeff Jacobs described as a key part of his company’s efforts to revitalize the downtown West Fourth Street Corridor. Jacobs bills the Neon Line as a $1.8 billion mixed-use project that will include entertainment, restaurants, retail and art.
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“As the residential community in Reno’s Neon Line neighborhood grows, we continue to expand on the mission to create a downtown environment to live, work and play,” Jacobs said. “The new complex, 245 North Arlington, is an important part of the continued development of Reno’s Neon Line.”
The apartment project will consist of different types of units, with one-bedroom units making up the bulk of the rooms. In addition to 36 one-bedroom apartments, 245 North Arlington will have eight two-bedroom apartments and 16 studios. The project replaces the 130-unit condominium project that Jacobs first proposed last August.
Jacobs called the change necessary given the changes in the market.
“As construction prices have risen so much since the COVID outbreak, condos have become too expensive to sell in the downtown Reno market,” Jacobs said. “They should be over $1,000,000 for a two-bedroom unit.”
Turning the project into apartments also allows the company to set aside a portion of the units for workforce housing, Jacobs added.
The new apartments come at a time when The Biggest Little City is in the midst of a housing crisis, with demand for housing exceeding existing supply.
Jacobs Entertainment came under fire after tearing down several old motels his company acquired in the proposed entertainment district. The motels, which included derelict properties, served as de facto low-income housing for residents on the lower end of Reno’s economic ladder.
Jacobs did not apologize for getting rid of the old properties, describing their conditions as deplorable and unsuitable for residents. Jonathan Boulware, vice president of Nevada operations for Jacobs Entertainment, echoed that sentiment in 2018 when the decision has been made to remodel the Crest Inn — one of two old motels that Jacobs decided to redevelop instead.
“From day one, it was apparent that our residents were made up of children, single parents, elderly people and people with disabilities who lived in absolutely filthy, unlivable and unacceptable conditions,” Boulware said. “It is simply unacceptable.”
Jacobs has also pledged to set aside 10% of every housing property his company renovates or rebuilds for affordable housing for seniors or the workforce. The 10% pledge was first applied to the renovated Crest Inn, which is now known as Renova Apartments, and still applies to 245 North Arlington, according to Jacobs.
Critics, however, argue that senior or labor units represent only a fraction of the housing supply that was removed from the downtown core by the demolition of Jacobs’ other motel acquisitions. In response, Jacobs offered to donate land for a new 1,000 unit affordable workforce housing project that he wants the City of Reno and the Reno Housing Authority to oversee. The city and RHA are reviewing the proposal.
As for 245 North Arlington, Jacobs expects the project to take 12 months to build.
The new apartment project was welcomed by Reno Mayor Hillar Schieve.
“The City of Reno is continuously looking for solutions to resolve Reno’s housing crisis,” Schieve said in a statement. “It is essential that we explore housing types at all levels to reduce the current pressure on the market. I appreciate all the developers who help create private and public partnerships to bring more infill housing projects to market and to our downtown.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Do you like this content ? Support local journalism with a RGJ digital subscription.