New retail complex in north Douglas

Developers are again looking to the Carson-Douglas border for retail expansion with a retail complex of more than 300,000 square feet.

Jay Timon, a developer with AIG Baker in Alabama, confirmed the company is negotiating for an approximately 40-acre parcel just south of the Wal-Mart construction site on Highway 395.

He said the company's idea is to add "lifestyle" stores, similar to new developments at the north end of Reno on Virginia Street -- and the kind Carson City is looking to attract.

"We have not signed anyone up yet, but I can tell you we are looking," he said. "We would like a fall 2003 opening."

Although plans have not been solidified, the complex would serve the same markets as the Costco, Target and Home Depot stores constructed in the last three years. The new complex would likely include one or more restaurants, and possibly a book store.

Timon said burgeoning populations in Carson City, Douglas County and Highway 50 East in Lyon County have created a healthy market for retail. Retail giant Wal-Mart is planning to complete construction and open by late summer or early fall, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Hill, bringing all the ingredients together for a major retail epicenter.

Because of land availability issues, there is little Carson City can do to stop the migration of retail sales to Douglas County, and city leaders are feeling increasingly discouraged.

Carson City Manager John Berkich said the continued growth of retail in north Douglas County is a burr under the saddle of the city already anticipating a loss in sales tax revenue while the population continues to grow. The opening of the new Wal-Mart will mark the end to a rich revenue stream that flows into city coffers. The capital city depends on retail sales for 43 percent of its annual budget.

"Those are the same kind of stores we had proposed for the fairgrounds," Berkich said. "The downside for Carson City is that we have a lack of land. Because we we don't have the fairgrounds to put on the market, we can't compete with Douglas County.

"We run the real risk of losing our retail base."

A city's plan to sell the fairground lands east of Fuji Park has met with strong opposition by some residents, represented by the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and Fairgrounds and the Fairground Users Coalition.

City supervisors have delayed a vote on the proposal, waiting for a residents' advisory vote on the ballot this November.

"The city in this situation loses all the way around," Berkich said. "We lose the revenue and we are impacted by the people who hold these jobs. They are going to look to Carson City for cheaper housing, so there are social and economic impacts."

Berkich said development companies have proposed similar themed shopping centers for the fairgrounds location during talks with the city.

"We have been told by a large number of development groups that the fairgrounds project was at the right time in the right place," he said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment