The Birth of a College Town

It’s been discussed for quite some time now. Early believers whispered about a changing face of downtown Reno, though many of us were skeptical if it would ever happen or not. Then suddenly, it did.

It’s seems like overnight, every Reno resident began talking about Reno Rebirth, a plan to rezone the city and develop new businesses, which has been in the works for some years now. Many believe the project got it starts with the development of Reno’s booming midtown district, which is now home to dozens of locally-owned bars, restaurants, and boutiques.


The development of the midtown district was spearheaded by one of Reno’s mayoral candidates, Hillary Schieve, owner of Plato’s Closet, located in the midtown district. Both Schieve and her opponent, Ray Pezonella, have worked on the Reno Rebirth Project in order to change the look of Reno’s downtown and expand the university campus south of I-80.

The Reno Rebirth project would ultimately hope to see businesses such as pawn shops, tattoo parlors, and souvenir stores removed from the downtown district, to be replaced by bars, restaurants, and boutiques that cater to the university community. Expanding the university into the downtown area would be beneficial for Reno’s economy, and would give the city a more cohesive feeling.

Downtown at night. Reno, Nevada, USA

With the building of three new on-campus, state-of-the-art facilities underway — the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center, Peavine Hall, and the E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center — and the announcement that Tesla will begin building a multi-billion dollar battery factory in neighboring Sparks, the Reno Rebirth movement couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Other possibilities that have been discussed are the renovation of downtown hotels into upperclassmen and graduate student apartments, and the building of a new Wolf Pack football stadium south of I-80.

One main concern for students, faculty, and city council members is the safety of students. Currently, most students do not walk downtown past dark, especially alone, out of concern for their own safety. In response to this concern, some have suggested the installation of more street lamps in dimly-light areas between the university and downtown. With the lamps, students would feel free and safe to move seamlessly between the current university campus and downtown area, which, with time, will hopefully blend together.


With all the change taking place in Reno, I am excited to one day return as an alumna and see what has become of my beloved alma mater and its hometown. After learning about college towns such as Chico, California and Athens, Georgia, which entirely revolve around their respective universities, I began wishing Reno had a similar ambience. Beside its negative reputation (which is thankfully trying to be salvaged by the Biggest Little City campaign), Reno’s biggest issue is the blaring divide between its university and the rest of the city. If we can rid the city of its outdated mini-Las Vegas-wannabe reputation, and instead cultivate a town that lives, eats, and breaths Wolf Pack, we can forever change both the University of Nevada and the City of Reno for the better.

What are some changes you would like to see in your college town? Tweet them to me @misserincollins and I might retweet you!



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