RENO — A proposal to build 4,700 housing units on a former ranch in Reno could help make a big dent in the region’s housing shortage if the developers can overcome at least one big challenge — it’s in a flood plain.
Principal planner Andy Durling says the development is expected to include a mix of single-family homes, multifamily townhouses and multiplexes targeted at buyers who can afford the region’s median home price.
Development company Newport Pacific Land of Newport Beach, California, has begun the approval process with the city of Reno. It hopes building begins within two years. Newport Pacific Land has named the project Daybreak, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported .
But much of the land is in a critical flood plain. The area flooded in 1997, 2005 and earlier this year.
Newport Pacific Land will have to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of the wetlands on the project site. The developer is proposing to remove a dam on Thomas Creek in an effort to return it to a more natural state.
Homeowners who opposed a project on the site 12 years ago remain concerned about Daybreak.
“We are absolutely concerned about 4,500 homes going into the flood plain,” said Kim Rhodemyre, who is on the board of directors for the Upper Southeast Communities Coalition. “I don’t anticipate that because of the size of the development and where it’s going and the diminishing of the flood storage for the Truckee Meadows that there will be a lot of support from the community.”
However, Rhodemyre said her coalition is eager to learn more about the project.
Newport Pacific Land closed on the property in June for $43 million, Washoe County Assessor said. When Paul Butler bought the ranch in 1954, he paid about $440,000.
“We made a significant investment in Reno,” said Christopher Bley, one of the development partners. “It showed our faith in what is going on with Reno, and this is such an exceptional property.”
Bley said he is aware of the opposition to the last project. But, he said, Reno has changed in the past 12 years, and his company is devoted to public outreach.
“The city was in a different place,” he said. “The economic drivers were in a very different place. The city’s needs were different. The homebuyers were different and the landscape of the actual project was very different.”
Durling said the company has spent the last two years studying the hydrology of the area to properly mitigate the flood hazard. Because it is in a critical flood plain, the city of Reno requires the project to prepare for a 117-year flood event — a slightly more stringent restriction than the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 100-year flood requirements.