Tricky job of redevelopment

Carson City's Redevelopment Authority has one of the trickier jobs around, as it tries to nudge private-business owners into improving their property for the benefit of all downtown.

Clearly, city supervisors and the redevelopment advisory committee have done a fine job. Downtown looks better than it has in years, and there is a general optimism it will remain on the upswing.

This is no overnight transformation, especially given the small budget the Redevelopment Authority has to work with. Most of the money is going to repay bonds that funded the landscaping, iron fence and other niceties.

In addition to the authority's support for development of the Brewery Arts Center-St. Theresa's Church cultural plaza, the next big job will be a parking garage.

In the meantime, though, only one large cavity remains along Carson Street to remind Redevelopment Authority members of what used to be. That cavity is the Lucky Spur, which hasn't been a productive part of downtown since the 1970s.

The Lucky Spur appears to be directly in the cross-hairs of a new proposal to make it easier for the Redevelopment Authority to target a property for eminent domain.

In essence, property owners can join the redevelopment effort or get out of the way.

This is a powerful tool - as is any eminent domain proceeding - for forcing a private-property owner to act. Some might call it a big stick government can use to take away property rights.

But if one accepts the argument City Hall can and should use its influence to resurrect downtown, then it seems only fair the Redevelopment Authority have the power to make everyone participate.

As Supervisor Robin Williamson said, "There are several property owners in the district that basically have relied on their neighbors to increase their property values while their contributions have been minimal."

Williamson was making the point the proposed rules aren't necessarily aimed at the Lucky Spur.

But we all know it sticks out like a sore thumb, and patience has run out. The Redevelopment Authority must take care, though, not to wield its big stick against property owners just because it can.


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