Whitney Peak Hotel’s property owners started plans to build a new extended-stay hotel on the corner of Commercial Row and Sierra Street in downtown Reno.
Owner Fitzgerald Real Property will begin construction on the new 90 to 100 room hotel on the site of the former Old Reno Casino and Reno Mercantile/Masonic Lodge buildings. Construction teams started deconstructing the Mercantile building Dec. 13, brick by brick, to reuse parts of it in a historical exhibit inside the new hotel.
Whitney Peak Hotel’s owners plan to invest up to $13 million in the extension of the Whitney Peak Hotel brand. Construction is slated to start as soon as the Masonic and Old Reno Casino buildings are removed.
“With the large influx of corporate clientele into the Reno-Sparks area, we felt there was a niche to fill in high-quality, extended-stay lodging, particularly in the downtown core,” Niki Gross, managing director of the Whitney Peak Hotel said in a press release.
The Whitney Peak Hotel, which opened in 2014, caters largely to area corporations, such as Apple, Google, Tesla and Panasonic, which have chosen the Reno area for their new facilities and innovation centers, driving up demand for amenity-rich hotel lodging.
City leadership and the Downtown Reno Partnership business improvement district management team are supportive of new development for Reno’s continued evolution.
“The conscious and thoughtful redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties downtown is a top priority for the City of Reno,” said Ward 5 Reno City Council person Neoma Jardon. “Giving new life to formerly abandoned or empty buildings can drive significant economic benefits for the city, in addition to providing new housing, lodging, restaurant and retail offerings for our residents, businesses and visitors.”
Four years ago, property owners began working with Paul Ferrari, P.E., a local engineer with a substantial background in structurally retrofitting and preserving historic structures, to assess the condition of the Reno Mercantile building. Fitzgerald Real Property evaluated potential redevelopment options, with plans to retrofit the building and bring it back to its former glory.
The building had been empty since the 1970s.
In early 2017, the City of Reno required the owners to install safety fencing around the building due to concerns over the integrity of the structure, which was built in 1872 and is the oldest standing commercial building in Reno. The owners subsequently spent more than $250,000 installing internal bracing to stabilize the building.
“We evaluated every option and leveraged considerable resources on the owners’ part to find a solution that would allow us to preserve the Reno Mercantile, but we determined that the safest – and only – course of action is to raze the building,” Ferrari said. “However, the owners absolutely recognize the legacy of this building and its importance to the Reno community, so they will salvage and reuse as much existing material as possible, bringing historic integrity to the new building.”
Fitzgerald Real Property has set aside a substantial demolition budget and will work with contractors to carefully salvage interior wood beams and exterior bricks to incorporate into the new property, according to a press release. The hotel will also include an interpretive display that chronicles the long history of the Masonic Lodge and Reno Mercantile, including photos of the building in its various incarnations.
Fitzgerald Real Property has started plans with U.S. National Park Servcei’s Historic American Buildings Survey program to document the building’s interior. HABS recording combines drawings, history and photography to produce a comprehensive, interdisciplinary record about the importance of a particular structure. Large-format, black-and-white photographs record the environmental setting, elevations and significant details, both inside and out.
Demolition is expected to last about eight weeks in order to preserve as much material as possible.
Nevada Masons from Reno Lodge #13 are looking forward to learning of the original granite cornerstone is still in tact. If so, they expect it could contain artifacts from the 19th century.
The new hotel will incorporate many of the same elements and amenities of its sister property, including a fresh, clean and inviting style and décor. Each room in the non-smoking property will also have an in-unit washer and dryer and a kitchenette.
While final designs are not yet completed, it is anticipated that the new property will include some meeting space and a mini-convenience shop with grab-and-go items. Guests will also have full access to the amenities of Whitney Peak Hotel, including the full-service restaurant, Roundabout Grill; BaseCamp climbing gym and fitness center; The Third Floor meeting and event space; and Cargo Concert Hall.
The Whitney Peak Hotel owners do not yet have plans for the Vino building next door.