Developers detail plans for sprawling TRI II project in Fernley

The TRI II project is planned for a plot of private land on the south side of Fernley west of Highway 95A and east of the Storey/Lyon county line.

The TRI II project is planned for a plot of private land on the south side of Fernley west of Highway 95A and east of the Storey/Lyon county line. Photo: Colleen Unterbrink

When Lance Gilman and Don Roger Norman purchased 107,000 acres of raw land in the Northern Nevada high desert east of Sparks in 1998, they had no idea that less than two decades later they would be out of land for sale.

The duo who developed Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County are now eying their next big project, a similar but smaller development in Lyon County at Fernley dubbed, simply, “TRI II.”

Smaller is a subjective word, though – the developers already have purchased more than 10 square miles of private land on the south side of Fernley west of Highway 95A and east of the Storey/Lyon county line and are working to get public lands approved for sale to fill in the checkerboard and make TRI II a viable project, said Kris Thompson, project manager of Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRI).

The land package included multiple purchases from private landowners. Financial details were not disclosed.

The sale of more than 
64,000 acres of land at TRI to Blockchains LLC back in 2017 accelerated development plans for TRI II, Thompson told the NNBW in an interview this month.

“There is no more room for any large industrial development in the Washoe County area,” Thompson said. “We sold out the original 100,000 at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center except for a few non-standard parcels – we are down to about 100 acres.

“We have about a 20,000-acre project area, which by comparison is about the same size as what was built out at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center,” he added. “We could get about 80 to 100 companies there, and we have buyers stacked up with nowhere to go. Because of that saturation, a lot of buyers are going to Utah, Texas, Arizona or New Mexico, which are our biggest competitors for these companies.”

Tahoe Reno Industrial General Improvement District Board President, Kris Thompson, during a board meeting on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019 at the Storey County office building in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County. Photo: David Calvert / The Nevada Independent


While it’s true Washoe County lacks large tracts of raw land available for massive new industrial parks, there are other regional industrial developments with irons already heating in the fire that are ready to break ground or could come online well in advance of TRI II.

Notably, Victory Logistics District, also in Fernley, 
already has gone vertical on an 815,000-square-foot speculative building and has additional pads ready for construction at the 4,300-acre industrial park owned by Mark IV Capital.

20,000-acre Northern Nevada Industrial Center off USA Parkway near Highway 50, meanwhile, has already begun marketing 250 shovel-ready acres for industrial development.

Additionally, the Washoe County Lands Bill that’s working its way through Congress could potentially open huge tracts of land for industrial use east of Sparks on the north side of Interstate 80, said Mike Kazmierski, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

“That’s all land that would need to be nearly filled up before TRI II became something attractive,” Kazmierski told the NNBW. “There are a lot of question marks in that (proposal).”

‘An epicenter in Northern Nevada’

Despite those question marks, there’s no denying the developers’ previous successes. And the new TRI II development won’t require nearly as much infrastructure or legwork as what was required to bring the original TRI online, Thompson said.

TRI II is planned for a plot of land on the south side of Fernley west of Highway 95A and east of the Storey/Lyon county line. Photo: City of Fernley


“It’s less than 20 percent of the lift at TRI,” he said. “There was no infrastructure there; we had to do it all. We had to build a sewer treatment plant, drill all the wells and establish a water system, and build all the roads and bridges.

“For TRI II, we are near Fernley infrastructure and services — they have some utilities in place we can access. We will need extensions into our park, and we will have to build that ourselves, but at least there is a municipal system we can tap into.”

Gilman said in a phone interview from his vacation home in Florida the aforementioned projects also differ from the proposed TRI II project because those developers are looking to erect built-to-suit industrial boxes for customers while the TRI model is to sell shovel-ready land to clients who want to own the dirt under their new facilities.

“We are a much different business model than our competitors,” Gilman said. “We believe Fernley will become a central hub eventually because so much land is available out there. It will become an epicenter in Northern Nevada, and we want to be a part of that.”

Additionally, Gilman said, many of the same elements are in play that helped make Tahoe Reno Industrial Center a success.

Gilman said a key element of the TRI II proposal — which was first announced in 2019 — is the addition of a bypass road off the freeway interchange at Wadsworth similar to USA Parkway that will allow truck traffic to circumvent Fernley’s constricted downtown corridor.

TRI II is planned for a plot of land on the south side of Fernley west of Highway 95A and east of the Storey/Lyon county line. Photo: City of Fernley


“We don’t have to rethink the puzzle,” he said. “We are going to duplicate TRI. We have a community we can invest in, we can bring in all the same elements – we built water and sewer companies and 300 lane miles of roads (at TRI).”

‘Development is booming’

The entire project, however, hinges on the developers’ ability to acquire additional land from the Bureau of Land Management to fill in the checkerboard so the project footprint is on contiguous land.

TRI’s Thompson said he hopes to have that answer within the next year.

“The lands bills are tied to our plans,” he said. “They are vital. Without the public land we have no project.”

The proposed TRI II project will set aside lands within the project footprint for green space and environmental use/outdoor recreation, as well as affordable housing. The final tally, Thompson said, would be about 11,000 to 12,000 acres of developable land for industrial use.

Fernley City Manager Daphne Hooper


That’s more than enough to bring some big changes to Fernley. City Manager Daphne Hooper acknowledges that Fernley already is on the cusp of becoming a much larger community.

“Development is booming in Fernley,” Hooper told the NNBW. “We are seeing growth, and certainly there is a positive impact regarding the number of jobs and (income from) property taxes. But on the flip side with more jobs comes the need for more housing and trying to balance that with our infrastructure and long-term sustainability.

“We’ll have to look at expanding our utilities and water and sewer lines and make sure they are sustainable over the long run,” Hooper added. “We want to make sure we have capacity and an understanding about how it will change the city of Fernley. It’s exciting, but we also have to work together and figure out what makes the most sense and is most helpful to Fernley.”

When Fernley incorporated in 2001, the town had a population around 8,500 people, Hooper said. In the 2020 census, the town has roughly 23,000 people, and it’s expected to reach 40,000 residents over the next 10 years, Hooper added.

“That’s a big transformation for Fernley,” she said. “It is changing from an agricultural community into a suburban area, and there are pros and cons with that.”


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