Downtown concept video draws good reviews

The reviews were good. And so were the complimentary snacks.

It was a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday night for the unveiling of the downtown Carson City design concept video. Approximately 160 people came, with free popcorn, candy and sodas served to add to the overall premiere-night mood.

"I think it's wonderful," said Sandra LaRusso Hartley, who was one of the 1,000 residents who participated in the downtown design workshops held in September. "It is really neat to see it in its completion. I like its openness."

The 3-D video takes viewers on a short virtual tour of how the downtown might look long after the Carson City freeway is completed in 2010 and traffic decreases drastically on Carson Street, from the current count of 40,000 vehicles per day.

Reducing the number of lanes on the thoroughfare from four to two through much of downtown, adding parallel on-street parking and widening the sidewalks are some of the most significant changes. And closer looks at certain sections of downtown show more intricate design details such as wayfarer signs, seating areas and stylized landscaping.

Total cost for the cosmetic changes is an estimated $10.75 million. State officials have promised to share the costs, said Joe McCarthy, the city's development and redevelopment manager.

Allowing pedestrians and vehicles to move effectively and coexist, encouraging affordable residential uses, and making the area look better to attract more people and businesses are some of the other ways to foster development of the downtown business climate, he said.

The goal? An enjoyable, useable downtown that "makes those cash registers ring," McCarthy said.

Allowing some taller buildings - one six-story building was created and added to the future downtown - and adding residential units, either standalone or as part of commercial buildings, are among other changes being considered.

The video will be shown again at 6 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Brewery Arts Center. A question-and-answer session with city staff members will follow.

The price of a proposed urban stream created by opening up the Washington Street storm drain is not included in the Carson Street improvements. The length of the stream hasn't been determined, for example.

The freeway alone is expected to cut the number of vehicles on Carson Street to between 32,000 and 33,000. That drop alone won't decrease the traffic enough for the downtown design to work, so other nearby north-south arteries will have to be redesigned to accommodate more traffic, said Andrew Burnham, the city's development services director.

Roop Street would have to go from 8,000 to 22,000 vehicles each day; Stewart Street, now accommodating 11,000 vehicles, would have to allow for at least 20,000. Roop is due for more lanes, and Stewart will be lengthened from its current end near William Street to several more blocks north to Roop Street, Burnham said.

Fairview Drive also will play a part in easing traffic. It will convey more vehicles to and from the freeway once its next section is complete and keep vehicles away from downtown, according to Burnham.

Once all of this happens, the estimated flow on Carson Street should fall to between 15,000 and 20,000 vehicles each day, Burnham said.

"I thought it was an interesting presentation. It takes me back to the 1950s," said Bernard Sease, who came here in 1954, before Carson Street was widened to four lanes. "But if they don't handle traffic and parking problems, it could be a disaster."

"It's a long time coming," said Thomas Gibbons, who has lived in Carson for 34 years. "It will give us the opportunity to expand on our historic heritage."

The video was produced by Winston Associates as part of the city's master-plan process.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.

If you go

WHAT: A 3-D, big-screen video simulation of the proposed design for Carson City's downtown

WHEN: 6 p.m. tonight

WHERE: Brewery Arts Center Grand Ballroom, second floor, 449 W. King


INFORMATION: 887-2101, ext. 1208


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