Fast-food, auto dealerships lead tenant improvements |

Fast-food, auto dealerships lead tenant improvements

Anne Knowles

New construction projects may be picking up, but contractors are still finding more jobs in tenant improvements, driven in part by mandated upgrades to fast-food chains and car dealerships.

“We’ve done seven to eight McDonald’s now, and Wendy’s is doing the same and Taco Bell,” says Dennis Banks, owner of Dennis Banks Construction Co. “All those happened to fall into our lap. It’s our niche.”

Banks says the food franchises are under deadline to update their look, and his firm has done work to modernize several McDonald’s in Reno, including the franchised location inside the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Auto dealers, too, says Banks, are on a tight schedule to meet headquarters-ordered designs for their showrooms. The goal is a uniform and easily-identified corporate look.

“Whether you’re driving through Oklahoma or Reno, you’ll know it’s a GMC dealership or Infiniti,” says Banks.

Dennis Banks Construction is working on five dealerships in Portland, Ore., including Subaru and Acura stores, as well as Reno’s Buick GMC Cadillac location.

Shaheen Beauchamp Builders LLC is doing a tenant improvement project at the Super Taqueria on Double R Boulevard in Reno as well as updating the façade of the Mutual of Omaha Bank at the corner of highways 50 and 395 in the center of Carson City and an upgrade to a 20,000-square-foot Nevada Department of Transportation office.

“Tenant improvement is about 75 percent of our business right now,” says Jeff Shaheen, co-owner of the Carson City builder.

Shaheen Beauchamp also just finished work on Seeliger Elementary School and was waiting on the release of five new Carson City school district projects that were expected to go out to bid last week. And the company recently bid on two Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich franchises in Carson City, one a build-to-suit near the Denny’s at North Carson Street and Hot Springs Road and another a remodel of the former Local’s BBQ & Grill on South Carson.

Health care is another reliable industry client for remodeling work. TICO Construction Inc., for example, has worked on several Humana-owned Concentra Urgent Care facilities in Reno, in the refurbished TGI Friday’s restaurant on South Virginia Street, and in Sparks and Carson City. The Reno builder also recently completed an update to the Reno Oncology Consultants’ 11,400-square-foot clinic on Plumas Street.

“We’re seeing some activity but we’re not getting overly excited. Some projects may get pulled back or may not close,” says Alex Hose, president of the firm based in Reno and San Jose. “There’s still a lot of great contractors in town, so that makes it still extremely competitive.”

Competition makes it difficult to know just how much remodeling work there is out there, says Frank Hawbolt, owner of Sierra Contractors Resource, a builders exchange in Reno.

“Most of the TI stuff is kept real quiet,” says Hawbolt. “The general contractors keep it on the down low because they don’t want another general to jump on it.”

Hawbolt says he’s seen a surge in building permits for new construction in the last six months, and contractors do report more of a mix of business. TICO, for example, is working on a new Popeye’s restaurant at the corner of South Virginia Street and Moana Lane in Reno, and Banks says his construction firm has a healthy combination of both new and TI work.

Despite a jump in all kinds of projects, it’s debatable whether it’s due to more jobs or fewer contractors who survived the last few years available to do the work.

“I’d say there’s more work per person than more work overall,” says Banks.


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