Progress continues on the Reno Experience District project, formerly known as Park Lane. The new branding officially closes the chapter on the iconic Park Lane name, which has been a fixture in the community for more than a half-century. Park Lane broke ground on the corner of South Virginia Street and Plumb Lane on Nov. 5, 1964. The development started life as an open-air mall before undergoing major improvements that made it the leading shopping center in the area at its heyday.
By the mid-1990s, however, the mall was hemorrhaging tenants. The departure of anchor stores Weinstock's and Sears signaled Park Lane's decline as competitor Meadowood Mall usurped it as the preferred shopping destination in the city. Even the arrival of Gottschalks as a new anchor, as well as the construction of a new movie theater, was not enough to stave off Park Lane's downward spiral.
The shopping mall closed for good in January 2007 after going through one last holiday shopping season. In the coming years, its main building was demolished and the once-popular shopping destination deteriorated into a large, vacant lot right in the heart of Reno.
The property was purchased by during a property acquisition spree by the developer following the Great Recession.
The Reno experience District - or RED for short - perfectly encapsulates the Newport, California-based developer's goals for the project, said CEO Frank T. Suryan Jr. of Lyon Living.
At the heart of Lyon Living's plans for the site is a concept known as "experience-based programming." The concept has gained widespread adoption within the retail sector's brick-and-mortar operations, which have been hit hard by the disruptive online juggernaut known as Amazon. While Amazon has driven the final nail in the coffin of many traditional retail stores and operations, physical retailers are fighting back by providing services and experiences that aren't possible online.
Suryan sees RED as a bustling hub that will attract residents and visitors alike to its various amenities. The development's various rooftops, for example, will have several lounges designed to provide sweeping views of the surrounding area and mountains.
Its 2-acre central park, meanwhile, will have an amphitheater and large LED displays, making it conducive to holding performances, events and other entertainment. Add an open-concept market hall, artisan shops and art displays, upscale shopping, and luxury apartment units and it's clear that the project is focusing on a more high-end experience.
"We envision art fairs, food festivals, and performances in the park, and fun pop-up shops and dining throughout the community," Suryan said. "Inside, our residents will enjoy convenient luxury living with rooftop pools and spas, beer gardens, high-performance fitness centers, lush courtyards, and private cabanas."
"We believe an experience-driven lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive," Suryan said. "We made sure to include smartly-designed, budget-friendly apartments that will appeal to anyone looking for more affordable options."
Add a work-play lifestyle from the project's mix of residential, office and dining options - as well as the addition of paths for walking and biking - and the project is expected to have less of an impact on traffic than a typical development of its size, according to Suryan.
"Mixed-use development is a key feature of smart growth that is aimed at reducing reliance upon automobiles," Suryan said. "Research ... shows that neighborhoods with mixed land uses make walking and biking safe and convenient and allow residents and workers to drive significantly less."
Its first luxury apartment, The Emory, is expected to start pre-leasing in November with move-ins planned to start in January 2021. After that, the Welcome Pavillion, central park and several other units are scheduled to come online in the first quarter of next year.
Suryan described Reno Public Market as a perfect complement to what Lyon Living is doing with the Reno Experience District.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be positioned next to Reno Public Market," Suryan said. "Together, we are transforming the Plumb-South Virginia area into a destination in itself."
Suryan also believes that Reno's growth prospects are strong enough to withstand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lyon Living CEO says that the factors that fueled The Biggest Little City's growth after the Great Recession will still be there when people adjust to whatever new normal comes about in a post-COVID world.
"With the natural growth Reno has been experiencing and with the faster migration from Northern California to Reno due to Covid-19, we are even more confident that Reno will exceed our expectations," Suryan said. "This is all about job growth and the diversity of industry that Reno has attracted since coming out of the Great Recession."
"This city has so much to offer and will continue to thrive," Suryan added. "We are beyond excited to bring RED to the people of Reno."