Discover the “New” Downtown Reno, Nevada

Featured image showing the Reno, Nevada Skyline with mountains in the background on a clear day.

Discover the “New” Downtown Reno, Nevada

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In Engrid Barnet’s feature article published on, readers are invited to explore the vibrant and revitalized downtown of Reno, Nevada. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Reno has undergone an impressive transformation, leaving behind its outdated image and emerging as a hub of cultural, educational, and career opportunities. From innovative educational institutions and thriving arts scenes to bustling business districts and endless recreational possibilities, this article unveils the new face of downtown Reno, offering readers a glimpse into the city’s exciting revival. See the original post on

Discover the “New” Downtown Reno, Nevada

The city and University of Nevada, Reno are working together to create a better Reno.

By Engrid Barnett on September 27, 2023

Downtown Reno

In recent years, RenoNevada, has undergone significant changes, especially to its city center and nearby neighborhoods. These transformations have garnered the attention of organizations like the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank that ranked the “Biggest Little City” No. 4 on its list of Best-Performing Cities in 2020.

Additionally, in a year-long placemaking study by Ghel, an urban design and planning agency, downtown Reno is described as “changing from an event-based destination to an everyday neighborhood.” You don’t have to look far to see the truth in this statement.   

Approximately 1,342 residential units are under construction in downtown Reno, and once completed, they’ll attract roughly 3,000 new residents, augmenting the existing population of more than 5,500.

What’s driving some of the changes happening downtown? The city is strengthening its relationship with the University of Nevada, Reno.

Ahead, find more about how Reno’s downtown is changing and what to be on the lookout for in the future. 

Reshaping Reno

Besides the residential units, new construction is set to add more than 85,000 square feet of retail space in downtown Reno. This will add to the 1,150 businesses and 22,265 employees currently operating in the city’s central business district.

Additionally, Keystone Commons, a mixed-use project located at Keystone Avenue and Fifth Street, has brought several new businesses to the downtown area. These include Panera Bread, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Chipotle. A Cracker Barrel is also slated to open soon and will provide jobs for approximately 200 part- and full-time employees.

Downtown Reno’s growth is supported by developments in other areas of the city, too. For example, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport is projecting a 40% increase in travelers in the coming years. The airport generates more than $3.1 billion in economic impact for the region.

Aerial view of University of Nevada, Reno

University-Fueled Growth

The University of Nevada, Reno continues to be a significant growth driver, as well.

The university will see an influx of 4,500 new students in the coming year, adding to a student body that already numbers above 20,000. To meet the needs of this growing population, the university and the City of Reno have initiated multiple construction projects in recent years, including the Mathewson University Gateway District. Situated at the south end of campus, this project will transform the area between the campus and downtown Reno.

The Gateway Parking Complex brings 800+ new parking spots to campus, and a new hotel/conference center, which will accommodate more visitors. Plus, a state-of-the-art, 120,000-square-foot College of Business will serve students, faculty, staff and the community.

“The new University Mathewson Gateway, with its iconic location and design, is the next great chapter in the emergence of the university and the city as the epicenter of innovation in the west. We are excited and proud to work with the City of Reno on this historic project.”

Brian Sandoval, University of Nevada, Reno President

A Positive Partnership

Growth creates the potential for additional growth, which is what Reno is envisioning.

“When you get 8,000, 9,000, 10,000 people living there, that’s when you reach crucial mass,” says Nathan Digangi, economic development manager of the Downtown Reno Partnership. “That’s when retailers start talking about the downtown area.” 

Sandoval understands the importance of this effect and how a stronger relationship between the university and city will help attract new businesses and opportunities to Reno.

“A great city needs a great university, and a great university needs a great city. The destinies of the University of Nevada, Reno, and the City of Reno are inextricably intertwined,” he says. “The university is one of a select group of universities (only 119 in total) that are classified as both a Carnegie ‘Community Engaged’ and a Carnegie R1 ‘Very High Research’ University. We are very proud of this.”

Besides attracting new students to the region, the university guarantees an impressive talent pool, representing a potent draw for big tech brands and startups. Thousands of university alums work in the community, fueling the region’s workforce, economic development and innovation.

Continued Economic Development

To complement these trends, the university has designed cutting-edge degree programs in advanced manufacturing, business, cybersecurity and engineering. Plus, downtown Reno’s Innevation Center supports spin-off startups and high-tech companies. It’s no wonder big-name brands like Tesla, Amazon, Panasonic, Hamilton, Elemental LED, Ridgeline, Arrow, GE, Intuit and ThyssenKrupp have chosen Northern Nevada for their operations.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to companies relocating to the region. The free flow of ideas, people and innovation will continue to define Northern Nevada moving forward, and it underscores a rich history of cooperation.

“The University of Nevada, Reno and the City of Reno have partnered since 1885, and we look forward to another century of collaboration and cooperation.”

Brian Sandoval, University of Nevada, Reno President

A Look Into the Future

What does Sandoval envision for downtown Reno’s future?

“We are in a unique moment in our history, as we continue to develop new academic programs that are designed to complement the state’s economic future with the latest instruction in new technologies and innovations by our talented and diverse faculty,” he says. “We also work with local businesses and industry partners to create internships and employment opportunities for our excellent students.”

Digangi also sees a bright future for downtown Reno.

“There are a lot of new offerings downtown, and we expect that momentum to continue for the foreseeable future,” he says. “From activities and attractions to art and food, we’re experiencing a strong transformation that has been years in the making.”

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