Carson City downtown remake design proposals sought by city before Christmas

The conceptual design presented to the Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday for downtown 3rd Street improvements. The red line is the Firkin & Fox. A stage would be behind the restaurant close to curry street. In the middle of the street is a purposed splash pad. The street between Carson Street and Curry Street will be closed to vehicles.

The conceptual design presented to the Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday for downtown 3rd Street improvements. The red line is the Firkin & Fox. A stage would be behind the restaurant close to curry street. In the middle of the street is a purposed splash pad. The street between Carson Street and Curry Street will be closed to vehicles.

Preliminary proposals for the revival of the late Bob McFadden’s downtown Carson City dream are due before Christmas.

One among those plans to upgrade downtown, including but not limited to West 3rd Street, is slated for selection before Valentine’s Day next year.

The prospective design team candidates will be chosen from proposals sought in a formal request for proposal city government issued this weekend, which calls for submissions from consultants on the Downtown Carson Street Urban Design Project. It encompasses more than the title suggests, including Curry Street and what is already expected to be called Bob McFadden Plaza on a closed West 3rd Street.

“The project costs are estimated to be approximately $10-11 million, which includes funding from a 1/8th Cent Sales Tax, and Public Works funding,” according a seven-page request for a proposal document on city government’s website. “Additional funding from Redevelopment is anticipated.”

Bob McFadden, a real estate investor who revitalized historic city structures before he died, once called historic buildings an asset and said Nevada’s capital has “a gold mine of history to show off.” Last Thursday, the city’s Redevelopment Authority and Board of Supervisors put the final design block, literally, in place by deciding to close West 3rd Street from Carson to Curry streets for such a plaza.

“With this type of project,” the RFP document on the overall design said, “the city may accept one or more firms teaming up for joint venture with a Nevada-based firm to prepare the required services, but the city will recognize such a consortium as a single entity.”

Curry Street improvements will get designed in conjunction with the Carson Street project but would be separately funded and accomplished later, after upgrades are done on the main drag that parallels Curry a block to the east. The RFP also said the 3rd Street conversion to a plaza “may be included with the Carson and Curry Street design efforts,” which last week’s commitment of redevelopment and other funds likely made certain.

Among those other funds is a $125,000 donation pledge by a half dozen members of Bob McFadden’s family, which will provide them plaza naming rights. In addition, Mark and Jenny Lopiccolo, who in many ways brokered the public-private plaza coalition with City Manager Nick Marano, helping secure the McFadden donation, are putting private money and sweat equity into furthering the plaza part of the downtown remake.

“McFadden’s death is a great loss to Carson City,” Jenny Lopiccolo, current owner of the St. Charles Hotel McFadden had revitalized, said when her business associate died a decade ago. “He was a great businessman and was very successful in his many business dealings in the area.”

“Mostly, though,” she continued back then, “he spent a great deal of time as a community advocate. He loved Carson City, and always had a great vision for the city, especially for the downtown area.”

Now the Lopiccolos are spearheading private-sector efforts to make the street just north and to the west of their hotel building the McFadden Plaza with a stage on their current rear parking lot near Curry Street and a splash pad water treatment between the stage and Bella Fiore, which is a block west and across what is now 3rd Street. The hotel building now houses Firkin & Fox bistro, addressed as 310 S. Carson St., which has outdoor service on West 3rd.

The splash pad-like water feature down the plaza to the west could be turned off to make way for warm month entertainment events and winterized for colder months.

The conceptual plaza design accepted by the city’s Redevelopment Authority and governing board last week, which is comprised of the same five members, also features landscaping and envisions audiences spilling over during events on a temporarily closed Curry Street. It also realigns the Carson Street crosswalk from the legislative mall to the middle of the anticipated plaza rather than directly toward Firkin & Fox’s northeast door and outdoor seating.

The larger Carson Street design, which runs from 5th Street on the south to William Street on the north, is going to involve removal of the median, three lanes for all or most of that stretch, adding bicycle lanes on each side and widening sidewalks to 12 feet or 20 feet to promote a “complete streets” concept. It’s to calm vehicular traffic and attract pedestrians.

The Curry Street spruce up, expected to require work at least a year later, is less defined at this early conceptual stage. Jenny Lopiccolo, meanwhile, is crediting City Manager Nick Marano with working quickly after a Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee made the downtown plaza a top priority to get it included in the overall design.

Her enthusiasm for the McFadden Plaza isn’t just attached to her admiration for her late colleague and the family’s donation, but also by her attachment to the at-grade water feature she said will attract children and families during the day. Because it would be flush with pavers or concrete on the plaza’s west end, it would make the space a usable and attractive part of the plaza.

She said she has seen such water treatments in other cities during her travels, which led to research with SplashPadUSA. That firm’s website includes verbiage about helping communities determine such things as space availability, engineering and health department requirements and the like.

The Lopiccolo couple own not only the building housing Firkin & Fox, but three other properties in the area. The pair will provide the rear parking lot and other in-kind or related efforts to help get the project done, which Mark Lopiccolo can help with in part because he has a construction company.

“We have some skin in the game,” Lopiccolo said. Jim Phalan of Firkin & Fox “British Pub” said his family also has put money into the hotel property for the restaurant and bar he operates there.

The city’s RFP and action timetable, meanwhile, calls for proposal submittals by Dec. 18, while short-listing of the top firms favored by a city review and selection committee is expected by year’s end. Short-listed interviews are anticipated on Jan. 6, with contract negotiations following from Jan. 7-15. The possible date for a contract award by the Board of Supervisors is Feb. 5. The entire design would be completed by the end of 2015.


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