Past Pages, Jan. 23, 2012: Long downturn grinds away on architects

The prolonged construction downturn has forced Northern Nevada architectural firms to become much leaner to survive, and a brighter future is nowhere on the horizon.
That’s a far cry from the days architectural firms enjoyed the luxury of picking and choosing their projects, work was plentiful and companies added dozens of new employees and opened offices in additional locations.
For many firms, simply keeping the lights on has been no easy task. Max Hershenow, co-founder of H+K Architects with partner Jeff Klippenstein, says many architects in the region are simply being slowly worn down by the prolonged downturn and lack of work. Hershenow has been designing buildings in Northern Nevada since 1985.
“It is starting to grind on people,” he says. “Most of us certainly didn’t see it stretching out to the length it has now, and we wonder how far it will go into the future. We are not seeing any indicators for significant change.”

— Page 1, by Rob Sabo

Food-waste recycling grows, pressuring compost makers
Atlantis Casino Resort got lots of warm media attention last month as it launched a program to recycle organics — food wastes and the like — through a Carson City composting facility. For the owner of Full Circle Compost, meanwhile, the contract with Atlantis and Waste Management is a mixed blessing.
On one hand, the organic waste from the Atlantis and other restaurants and grocers in the region jumpstarts the efforts of Full Circle Compost to sharply boost its production and spread its fixed costs over more tons of finished compost. At the same time the higher production pressures company owner Craig Witt and his son, Cody, to grow the market for finished compost both quickly and profitably.
Cody Witt, a recent graduate of the master’s business program at the University of Nevada, Reno, says the company hopes to line up at least 20 retail locations in the Reno area to handle its product once the spring gardening season arrives.

—Page 1, by John Seelmeyer


Divorcing couples struggle to deal with negative equity in homes
Life used to be much simpler for Kim Surratt, a family-law attorney in Reno. Back when home prices were rising steadily, the divorcing couples with whom Surratt works would agree to sell their house split the profit and get on with their lives.
But now that thousands of home-owning couples owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, Surratt and other professionals face the baffling task: How to equitably divide negative equity.
No one is tracking how many divorcing couples struggle to find an answer to an underwater mortgage. But 60 percent of Nevada homeowners who have mortgages owe more than their homes are worth, says the Santa Ana, Calif., analysis firm CoreLogic.
And professionals — both in the real estate business as well as those who work with divorcing couples — say the problem is arising consistently these days in Northern Nevada.

— Page 1, by John Seelmeyer


EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature snippets of stories that published a decade ago to provide readers a 10-year perspective of business news in the region. This week’s stories first published in the Jan. 23, 2012, edition of the NNBW.


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