New retail space next step to reposition office building

Construction is beginning on 11,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the office building at 300 E. Second St. in downtown Reno, a major step toward repositioning the 15-story property.

The retail spaces along the Second Street side of the building face Reno Aces Ballpark, which is across the street. They're expected to be ready for occupancy in November.

Basin Street Properties, which purchased the building in late 2007 and moved its headquarters to its 15th floor this summer, believes the ballpark area will be a hot spot for redevelopment.

"The amenities are coming to the neighborhood," says Scott Stranzl, vice president of leasing for Basin Street. "This area continues to be gentrified. We wouldn't have done this if we weren't passionate about it."

In the short term, Basin Street faces challenges with the building.

Its 135,000 square feet of office space on four floors stands about 45 percent vacant. To generate some buzz, Basin Street has offered naming rights to the building to any tenant that leases at least 30,000 square feet.

Developed initially as a parking garage for Harrah's, the four floors of office space were added to house the gaming company's corporate offices. In fact, the 1960s-era offices of founder Bill Harrah remain, almost untouched by time, in the building.

Basin Street thinks the building is likely to draw creative firms, companies in the software business and companies that want close access to the downtown hospital campuses of Renown and Saint Mary's.

Another selling point: The approximately 1,000 parking spaces in the building.

In fact, the parking was a major factor for Basin Street executives when they decided to buy the property. They plan a business-class hotel on a property just to the east, but its footprint is so small that parking for the hotel will be in the office building's garage.

(The hotel plans are stalled by the credit crunch.)

In the meantime, Stranzl says, Basin Street has been making major investments in the building. It's upgraded electrical, heating and air conditioning systems, spruced up lobby areas and elevators and undertaken substantial amounts of maintenance that had been deferred by previous owners.

With a 15-story, window-free wall facing west into the heart of downtown Reno, the building at 300 E. Second St. doesn't feel like it's part of the downtown area. Stranzl says Basin Street executives hope a new paint scheme on the large wall and the creation of street-level retail space will improve ties between the building and its neighborhood.


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