RENO, Nev., Feb. 20, 1998 - The following was issued today by the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust:
The Perception vs. Reality
Obstructionists. Tree huggers (although bricks would be more relevant in this case). Individuals with lofty goals. All of these are inaccurate terms used when describing the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust (TMHT). The reality is the TMHT is a growing group of community professionals striving to find a viable financial solution by March 16, 1998 to rehabilitate the historic Mapes Hotel. If adequate finances, or an equitable solution is not presented, the famous hotel will be demolished.
The non-profit organization was established to rehabilitate, restore,
and preserve historic buildings, sites and
monuments in northern Nevada. "We're a growing group of community professionals working to preserve the
urban fabric that makes Reno a unique city," stated Jon Dewey, a local architect and member of the TMHT.
Although historic preservation and rehabilitation is a significant component in many other cities and countries, it
is a new concept in Reno, Nevada.
The Mapes has been a significant symbol of the evolution of gaming in Reno, Nevada since she opened on December 17, 1947. Located alongside the beautiful Truckee River in the heart of downtown Reno, the 12-story Mapes once housed 250 individual rooms, 40 apartments, fast-paced casino action, elegant dining and the famous "Sky Room." Located on the top floor, the "Sky Room" was an entertainment Mecca, featuring windows that stretch from the floor to the ceiling overlooking downtown and the majestic Sierra Nevada.
The Mapes was built during a time when the International style of Architecture
was Art Deco. Foliated,
bas-reliefs motif below each window, and rooftop totems with deep sculpted chevrons are only a few symbols of her unique and impressive heritage. While other hotels were retrofitted with casinos, the Mapes was designed and built as the first vertical casino that included gaming, dining, lodging and entertainment all under one roof. In her glory years, the famous flocked to her mystique. Visitors included: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra and Robert Redford, to name a few. She was built by Gladys Mapes who was fondly referred to as "Mrs. Reno" for her philanthropic and civic interests. Gladys operated the Mapes until shortly before her death in 1974. Her son Charles W. Mapes Jr. continued to operate the prestigious hotel until he sought reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws.
On December 17, 1982 the Mapes Hotel closed her doors. A series of false
promises and inadequate financing has left the brick beauty vacant for
over 15 years. In September of 1996, she was purchased by the City of Reno
Redevelopment Agency. They selected a developer named Oliver McMillan LLC, who was asked to present a
profitable development plan for the river front. One plan recommends the demolition of the Mapes, replacing her
with a 39,000 square foot restaurant/retail center. The other plan proposes a rehabilitation plan for the Mapes, utilizing her first floor for retail stores and upper floors for apartments. The rehabilitation plan has a financial "Gap" of $6 million. This "Gap" is the cost that cannot be financed in the Oliver McMillan LLC business plan for the Mapes after computing revenues and expenses to find the net income and then capitalizing the results.
The Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust is diligently working to fill the financial "Gap" identified by the City of Reno Redevelopment Agency and Oliver McMillan Development. "Obviously raising six million dollars in three months is quite a challenge," stated Toni Harsch, Treasurer of the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust.
"Essentially, we're in search of a 'White Knight' in order to save the Mapes Hotel." Currently, the TMHT is raising local and national awareness, and soliciting pledges and grants. In addition, the TMHT is seeking other developers with historic rehabilitation expertise to possibly joint venture with Oliver McMillan Development (which may reduce or eliminate the financial "Gap").
"When the decision is made on March 16 to rehabilitate the Mapes, we
will put the pledges to immediate use.
They'll be used to beautify the exterior of the building, by installing lights for safety, cleaning up the sidewalk and brick, and replacing boarded windows with display cases for visitors and locals to enjoy while walking by the
building," explained Harsch. The TMHT is also collecting signatures and letters of support via U.S. mail, fax, or
Time is running our for the Mapes Hotel! If you'd like to help, contact
the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust at
P.O. Box 6503, Reno, NV 89513, Phone 702-323-8710 or 800-548-9767, Fax 702-323-7414