Under the terms of a settlement reached in October, Stanford will relinquish its claim to the streets of downtown Reno, land once co-owned by the University’s founder.
The land originally was purchased in 1868 by San Francisco’s “Big Four” railroad barons, including Leland Stanford, during construction of the transcontinental railroad. The lots were subsequently sold, but the streets themselves remained in legal limbo.
A dispute over who owned the streets emerged in the mid-1990s, when several downtown casinos sued the city of Reno over monthly leases the city charged for skywalks that connect the buildings. After a title search, says deputy city attorney Michael Halley, the Big Four heirs—who also include the University of California system and the McKesson Corp.—were named as potential litigants because “they might have a legal interest in the property.” Prior to that, says Halley, the University “had not a clue” that it owned, or might own, a piece of Reno.
Last fall’s settlement grants full legal title to five Reno casinos. In turn, the casinos and the city of Reno will pay Stanford and other heirs a total of $150,000.