Company aims to develop retail at TRIC
In the early 1990s Vincent Griffith had just graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and in search of a job.
He met Lance Gilman and Roger Norman, the men behind the development of South Meadows.
“I was looking for a challenging position in engineering, and I met Lance and Roger and just hit it off,” Griffith said.
The relationship led Griffith to start his own engineering firm, Reno Engineering.
Griffith worked with Gilman and Norman to develop South Meadows Business Park, but they had bigger plans ahead.
Gilman and Norman purchased 100,000 acres of land in Lyon and Storey counties that eventually would become the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. They turned to REC to assist in its development.
“Once the South Meadows Business Park was completed, we wanted to turn our attention to building these types of business parks,” Griffith said.
REC started by engineering the park’s water, utility and roadway construction.
As the park evolved and interest in it skyrocketed, Griffith realized there was going to be an opportunity for retail entities at the park. So he bought some land to serve as a retail center for the park.
The eight-acre parcel now known as the park’s Town Center, has one building, 420 USA Parkway, while a sister building 440 USA Parkway is in the development stages.
“We decided to build these two buildings because we knew the park is going to need services,” Griffith said.
The Town Center, just off of Interstate 80, is designed to house retail and other support services for the industrial park. It is already home to a Subway, Port-of-Subs, a Philly’s NV restaurant along with a Golden Gate Gasoline station and convenience store. Renown Health and a dentist, Desert Valley Dental of TRI, Inc. also opened facilities at 420.
Griffith said they’ve already received signed letters of interest for a daycare, gym, and a restaurant among others. Griffith and his daughter Britton Griffith-Douglass, who serves as REC’s vice president of operations, declined to disclose any names of the potential tenants at this time, but did say there are several big-name retailers interested in the site.
Griffith and Griffith-Douglass said retail at TRIC is geared more for big-box retailers, rather than small mom-and-pop operations, because newcomers will be more familiar those name brands.
“(TRIC) is considered a corporate development, and corporate likes safe bets,” Griffith said.
Griffith added while he is pleased with the level of inquiries from those interested in moving into TRIC, he indicated many more services would be needed as the park grows. For instance, he hopes at least one bank will set up shop at TRIC, although he admits it’s been difficult to convince them to take the plunge. He indicated any bank that opens a branch out there not only would be convenient for workers at TRIC, but that bank could potentially grab a huge market share of the local business.
“Any bank that moves out there is going to pick up just about every new person that comes to town,” Griffith said.
The center is the only location in TRIC focused on retail. Griffith doesn’t anticipate retail to spread to other parts of the business park; at least until some of the roadway infrastructure is closer to being fully developed. Any further development he adds will be dependent, whether it’s his own or another company, on demand for services.
Although its work at TRIC is a huge piece of Reno Engineering’s business these days, it also has done several major projects in downtown Reno and South Meadows. It purchased Arlington Towers in 2015 and oversaw its renovation before marketing it to prospective tenants.
Although it started out focusing on engineering services, its added land development services to its specialties.
The company has moved a few times in its history beginning in South Meadows where it conducted much of its business.
But as its list of projects progressed to downtown Reno and eventually out to TRIC, the company moved to a more centralized location.
It occupies an office on the 14th floor of a building on 1st and S. Virginia Streets that also houses the City of Reno offices. Griffith said the location is a real coup to discuss business with potential clients.
“When people come in and want to talk what developments are going on down here, what better place that than to look out here and say we’re not little Podunk Reno,” Griffith said. “South Meadows is a beautiful office park, but you don’t look out the office window there and see high rises. Even people who grew up and lived here can look out our window and say ‘hey we have a lot of high-rises.’”
REC currently employs a staff of eight including Griffith and his daughter.
Griffith said he’s excited about TRIC’s potential and feels it justified REC’s own investment in the project, especially after it started in the midst of the recession.
“You just had to have faith,” Griffith said. “I think you could talk to anybody involved with the project knew it was going to be a great industrial park.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.