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One of Reno’s Best Kept Secret.

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It’s one of Reno’s best kept secrets, one of the best neighborhoods for first-time home buyers, it’s historic, and it’s my neighborhood. Can you guess what it is? It’s Reno’s historic Wells Avenue Bungalow district, of course!

It’s an eclectic enclave of homes situated to the east, and mostly to the west, of Wells Avenue. Wells Avenue recently underwent a major renovation, which included narrowing the street to one lane each way, adding extensive landscaping and old-fashion lighting, adding medians with landscaping, and repaved all the sidewalks. You can find locally-owned businesses on Wells Ave, everything from a pet store to a radio-controlled-hobby store.

Anchoring this historic bungalow district on the west is Holcomb Avenue, a busy four-lane street with huge towering trees, and rows of historic bungalows built in the 1900-1930 range. Nearly all of the homes, with the exception of one apartment complex that takes up a block, are intact. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad used to travel down Holcomb Ave, back when the road was one lane each way. There is a lot of rich history in this neighborhood, and the Historic Society gives walking tours on a regular basis.

The best part of this neighborhood is the price range of the homes, which if you are diligent can find cute bungalows for under $150,000. And it’s within walking distance of downtown! The percentage of owner-occupancy is increasing in this neighborhood.

The City of Reno also sees the potential of this neighborhood, and recently completed the Wells Avenue Neighborhood Master Plan. The city worked closely with residents and business owners over the course of nearly two years. This plan, now in place, will solidify the direction of the neighborhood as a whole, including any historic preservation or declarations, ideas on battling graffiti, what kind of zoning is allowed, and all sorts of things. I have been to nearly all the community outreach meetings, and although the residents’ opinions may vary, we all want the same end result; to make sure this neighborhood has a future for a long time to come. Once master plans are put into place, they are very hard to amend. Click the link below to find out more.

The Wells Avenue neighborhood has the most active resident and business groups in Reno. How active? We’ve reduced crime by 30% in less than a year, we’ve planted over 120 trees in parkways along the neighborhood streets straddling Wells Avenue, we convinced the city to move up sidewalk replacement after we learned how long it would be before we were scheduled for the replacement, the city installed extra streetlights to better light our little bungalow district, rehabilitated Stewart Park, made over Wells Avenue completely and turned it into a pedestrian-dense avenue, we regularly schedule clean-ups for our own neighborhood, research grants available for home restoration and much more. Sound like the kind of neighbors you’d like to have? I can’t say enough about my neighbors and what we’ve done together to improve this neighborhood.
With a low foreclosure rate and realtively few homes for sale, the homes in this neighborhood never really suffered from the real estate crash, because their home values never peaked in the first place. It was, and is still one of the most affordable bungalow districts in the country.

The bungalow district’s first homes, constructed along Holcomb and Moran Streets were mostly Queen Anne and Queen Anne cottage styles. By 1910, Arts and Crafts homes with wide porches were more common, and by the 1920’s, the classic bungalow was prevalent, often utilizing local brick. The Mission Revival style, which typically features stucco, arches and parapet roof lines, was also popular during the bungalow period. Some of the area’s most unique homes are recognized as being built in the Vernacular style and add an eccentric touch to the overall character of the neighborhood.

The Wells Avenue Neighborhood is in the process of being surveyed for possible designation as the city’s next conservation district. The City of Reno, through its recently adopted Historic Plan, has identified the steps for this process, which includes an architectural survey of all structures within the boundary of the proposed district. A conservation district does not regulate what a property owner can do with his property but is intended to recognize an area’s unique architecture and history and foster a sense of community pride. The city’s only other officially designated conservation district is Powning’s Addition. Members of the Wells Addition Neighborhood Group began the survey last year and this spring, the UNR Planning Club will continue to work on it . Mella Harmon will provide training to help the group recognize and identify the various architectural styles found in the area. The survey will focus on a four by ten block area that contains some of the neighborhood’s most beautiful homes. The proposed boundaries will be Ryland and Vassar from north to south and Holcomb and Locust from west to east. This establishes Wells Avenue as the central axis of the district.

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