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Gigantic deal in the works?

John Seelmeyer

One of the biggest industrial developments in northern Nevada’s history is nearing a decision point and it’s just one of several big projects on the drawing boards at the gargantuan Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

Real estate experts and economic development officials are tight-lipped about the identity of the company that’s believed to be near to making a decision about a northern Nevada facility.

They’ve hinted, however, that it’s one of the biggest names in American business the sort of company whose presence helps define the very identity of a region.

A couple of statistics hint at the size of the deal:

* The company is looking at building a 1 million-square-foot facility at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, the 159-square-mile development south of Interstate 80 east of Reno.

That would be as big as International Game Technology’s plant in Reno’s South Meadows.

* Truck traffic into the facility is estimated at 1,200 trips a day 600 in, 600 out.

* Numerous suppliers would be expected to follow the company to northern Nevada, further boosting the economic impact.

Paul Perkins, a senior vice president of industrial properties at Colliers International, calls the potential announcement “the most dramatic new entry to our market in many years.” It’s also about as secretive as can be.

Real estate figures say the company in the past has abruptly yanked plans in other cities when word leaked out.

They’re working hard to avoid a repeat in northern Nevada as the company has scouted locations for well over a year.

And big as the announcement might prove to be, it’s only one of a list of new companies nearing decisions or even starting construction at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

As Leonard Gilman, a sales agent at the center, bumps in a company van along roads under construction in the industrial center, he ticks off parcels that have been sold to industrial clients who soon will be announcing plans.

Eighteen acres here.

Another seven acres across the way.

Thirty acres there.

Potential new companies at the center range from a manufacturer of wine bottles to a company that makes plastic bags for retailers.

It all marks a sharp turnaround from two slow years during the recession that hit in late 2001.

Prospects looking at property in the industrial center, Gilman says, include 30 companies that are new to the region.

“It’s going to explode,” he says.”It’s going to keep growing, and it’s growing exponentially.”

The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center has plenty of room to handle that growth.

It sprawls across 102,000 acres that’s nearly 160 square miles south of the Patrick exit about 10 miles east of Sparks.

In fact, the industrial center covers more than half the land area of Storey County.

The first mile of a new state highway that will link the park and Interstate 80 on the north to Highway 50 on the south has been built, and work is starting on the next 1.2- mile segment of the 16-mile highway.

That 1.2-mile segment, by the way, goes directly to the site under study by the major new industrial user.

If it decides on the northern Nevada site, its truck traffic is likely to generate pressure for completion of a new freeway interchange proposed at Tracy.

The first phase of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center about 6,000 acres is expected to include about 100 million square feet of industrial and distribution facilities.

That’s roughly twice the total of existing industrial space in the Reno/Sparks area.

The boom could happen fast.

Under a deal inked by the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center and Storey County in 1999, building permits for projects at the center are issued in about three weeks.

In one instance, permits were available within 72 hours.

“We have a county that is very progrowth,” says Gilman.”That is what makes us golden out here.” The Storey County development isn’t the only place that’s busy.

Perkins says the Colliers team sees a number of sizable transactions in the works, and inquiries and visits from potential new companies remain at active levels.