Jacobs Entertainment is kicking off its first ground-up housing development within the Reno Neon Line District as it breaks ground Tuesday on a new apartment complex.
Named “245 North Arlington,” the project will add 60 apartment units to Reno’s downtown core. It also adds residents within the Reno Neon Line, something that CEO Jeff Jacobs described as a key component of his company’s efforts to revitalize downtown’s West Fourth Street Corridor. Jacobs touts the Neon Line as a $1.8 billion mixed-used project that will include entertainment, restaurants, retail and art.
“As the residential community in Reno’s Neon Line District grows, we continue to expand on the mission of creating a live-work-play environment downtown,” Jacobs said. “The new complex, 245 North Arlington, is an important element in the continued development of Reno’s Neon Line.”
The apartment project will comprise different unit types, with one-bedroom units accounting for the bulk of the rooms. In addition to 36 one-bedroom apartments, 245 North Arlington will have eight two-bedroom apartments and 16 studio units. 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 increased so much since the outbreak of COVID, condos have become too expensive to sell in the downtown Reno market,” Jacobs said. “They would have to be priced over $1,000,000 for a two-bedroom unit.”
Changing 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 crunch as housing demand outpaces existing supply.
Jacobs Entertainment has faced criticism after demolishing several old motels that his company acquired within the proposed entertainment district. The motels, which included blighted properties, served as de facto low-income housing for residents at the lower part of Reno’s economic ladder.
Jacobs has been unapologetic about getting rid of the older properties, describing their conditions as deplorable and unfit for housing residents. Jonathan Boulware, vice president of Nevada operations for Jacobs Entertainment, echoed the sentiment back in 2018 when the decision was made to remodel the Crest Inn — one of two old motel properties that Jacobs decided to redesign instead.
“From day one, it was evident that our residents consisted of children, single parents, seniors and people with disabilities who were living in absolutely filthy, unlivable, unacceptable conditions,” Boulware said. “That’s just unacceptable.”
Jacobs also pledged to set aside 10% of every housing property his company remodels or rebuilds for affordable senior or workforce housing. The 10% pledge was first applied to the renovated Crest Inn, which is now known as Renova flats, and still holds true for 245 North Arlington, according to Jacobs.
Critics, however, contend that the senior or workforce units are just a fraction of the housing supply that was taken off downtown by the demolition of Jacobs’ other motel acquisitions. In response, Jacobs proposed to give 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 looking into the proposal.
As for 245 North Arlington, which breaks ground at 10 a.m. on May 10, Jacobs expects the project to take 12 months to build.
The new apartment project was welcomed by Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.
“The City of Reno is continuously looking for solutions to address Reno’s housing crisis,” Schieve said in a statement. “It’s critical we explore housing types at all levels to reduce the current strain on the market. I appreciate all the developers who are helping create private and public partnerships to bring more infill housing projects into the market and our downtown core.”
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.