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I’m a downtown believer

Tim Ruffin

In the book “The Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell discussed when ideas, trends, or concepts become an epidemic. The theory is that at some point the idea will become mainstream and have momentum of its own.

I am now a believer that the downtown Reno office market has crossed the tipping point and has become mainstream again. Or as my aging peer group is prone to say, downtown is cool again.

So what pushed it over the edge to actually tip? Perhaps it was the completion of the train trench, freeing up the flow of traffic downtown. Perhaps the completion of the Mills Lane Justice Center, bringing more office jobs into the downtown market.

Perhaps the Riverside Theatres, bringing family entertainment to the downtown area. Perhaps it was the new condo projects and condo conversions, allowing suburban residents the opportunity to experience an urban lifestyle. Perhaps it was City Hall moving to One East First Street, moving more professionals closer to the downtown core. Perhaps it was the kayak park, creating a playground out of the Truckee River. Perhaps it was the new owners of 100 West Liberty, 50 West Liberty, 200 S. Virginia, 201 West Liberty, 240 Ridge Street, and 300 E. Second Street, who all upgraded the look and feel of their respective properties.

I think the list might be endless when you consider all the new projects downtown. I believe however, it was the combination of all of them that created the buzz to move back downtown. In the last 18 months tenants have actually started asking to put downtown office buildings on their list of potential relocation options. Let me tell you directly, this did not happen in the previous nine years.

When you look at the numbers, the downtown office market is hot. The vacancy rate has fallen from over 21 percent to 15.5 percent in one year. That is a remarkable feat in any city in our country. Rarely do you see a vacancy rate fall more than 25 percent in one year. And the good news it we expect it to continue.

Another sign of the success of downtown office buildings is that we actually have buildings 100 percent leased. Both 100 West Liberty and 241 Ridge Street are now at 100 percent occupancy. This is the first time 100 West Liberty, The Museum Tower, has been fully leased since it was built in 1987.

I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to those visionaries in our fair city that had the foresight to start the projects that led to the downtown success. Without their leadership, we might have a decaying downtown as do many other cities. A few names come to mind including former Mayor Jeff Griffin, Mayor Bob Cashell, and City Manager Charles McNeely.

And to all the office tenants that have made the move to locate downtown, including: Pindi, Fehr and Peers, Quintus Resorts, Beckley Singleton, Anotomie, Great Basin Internet, CH2MHill, Arterra, The Polikalas Law Firm, and The Law Firm of Bruce and Trachok thank you, as you have made our downtown vibrant once again.

Tim R. Ruffin is senior vice president and managing partner of the Colliers International office in Reno.