Jibboom Street plan put before commission
During Jibboom Street’s heyday, gunfights and stabbings outside saloons and “ladies boarding houses” were the norm. It was also Main Street before the Central Pacific tracks were built.
Today, Truckee residents fight for parking spots at the post office and use the street to bypass busy downtown. A few businesses make their homes along Jibboom now, but the street may soon become an extension of the downtown retail and restaurants that characterize Commercial Row.
With a recently proposed project along Jibboom and High streets, the area could retain its historical feel, minus the “houses of ill repute.”
The project proposes approximately 17,044 square feet of commercial space along Jibboom Street and a nine-lot residential subdivision along High Street, as well as the transformation of the old motel on Jibboom and Bridge streets into a 2,725 square-foot restaurant.
“What we hope it does is allow the development of Jibboom Street from one end to the other,” said Gerry Rodriguez of MWA Architects, the designer of the project.
Rodriguez said he often sees tourists reach the end of Commercial Row and wonder where to go next, but with the completion of sidewalks along Jibboom, and the implementation of this project, he hopes to see Jibboom become an extension of Commercial Row.
Rodriguez noted that the design reflects architecture that once existed on Jibboom Street, but that the five proposed buildings will accommodate modern needs.
“There’s a lot of alluding to what was there historically,” he said.
Sharon Arnold of the Truckee Donner Historical Society said the buildings that once lined Jibboom Street were torn down in the 1970s.
“They were old and nobody liked them, and they didn’t care about historical preservation then,” she said.
The motel – which is considered a significant historic resource downtown – would be deconstructed, relocated and reconstructed in its original architecture.
“As I told the town of Truckee, I don’t think anybody would cry if that place was gone,” Arnold said. “Because of its age … they are following historical guidelines.”
Other than the removal of asbestos siding from the structure, its appearance remains relatively unchanged from its circa 1940s architecture.
Arnold said many people think the building was once a brothel, but she claims it never was – the brothels on Jibboom Street were located near the jail.
“At one time, after Highway 40 became I-80, some of the teachers lived there,” Arnold said.
But the motel’s significance has more to do with the time at which it was built, not necessarily its appearance or what went on behind its doors.
A 1998 historical evaluation of the building stated that “the six-room motel followed the emerging ‘motor court’ design reflecting the increasing role the automobile played in America’s recreational activities.”
The proposed restaurant would be located in the restored motel, and would include an outdoor bar area.
Development on High Street would be located on lots between existing houses. The project also includes parking on High Street that would accommodate employees in the Jibboom Street buildings.
Only a formal application has been received by the town, and the planning department is currently requesting comments from special districts regarding the project.
“We are taking this to the planning commission probably in May or June,” said Associate Planner Heidi Scoble.
The development will require a right-of-way abandonment for both the proposed restaurant and the residential subdivision – and will have to go in front of the Historical Preservation Advisory Committee, the planning commission and town council for approval.
With the recent development on Jibboom Street, Scoble said people may see sidewalks on that street very soon.
“It will probably happen before we get sidewalks on Donner Pass Road,” she said.
The Downtown Streetscape and Road Re-Alignment plan was recently passed, giving developers and landowners downtown a blueprint for sidewalks, landscaping and parking.
Although not currently mandated by the town, the project proposes sidewalks and frontage improvements to the property.