Mixed-used project takes a new direction
Everyone who heard the plans of John Masquelier and Kelly Pratt for one of Reno’s first live-work communities raved about the idea.
But the developers say the project near the Reno-Sparks Convention Center has proven tricky to pull off, and it’s turning out to be something closer to a traditional office development.
As initially designed in 2002, the eight-building, 32-unit project at 235 Redfield Parkway was marketed with office and retail spaces on its first floors and apartments on the second floors.
Masquelier and Pratt pitched potential tenants on the European-style lifestyle working downstairs from home as well as nearby public transit and the availability of shopping within walking distance.
Nearly four years after construction began, four of the eight buildings planned for Redfield Suites have yet to be built, and Masquelier and Pratt are marketing the six available spaces in the first four buildings to traditional office tenants.
In retrospect, the developers say they overestimated the number of people who want to live right above the shop. The project drew only a couple of live-work tenants.
And they say the timing of the project may have been off as it offered office space for lease at a time when many companies wanted to buy their own offices.
But its 500-square-foot office spaces proved popular with an unlikely niche out-of-state mortgage companies that are legally required to have a physical office with a desk, chair and telephone somewhere in Nevada.
Eight of those companies leased offices at Redfield Suites, Masquelier says, boosting the project’s occupancy to 70 percent. Because the offices are rarely occupied, they don’t place much demand on the availability of parking in the complex.
Pratt, who oversees marketing of Redfield Suites, says she is targeting even smaller office users as that segment appears strong. One unit has been divided into four offices, each about 100 square feet.
Although Redfield Suites hasn’t followed the path envisioned by its developers, Masquelier notes that both the land and water for the project were purchased before prices skyrocketed in recent years. And the first two buildings, he says, were built before construction costs spiked in 2004 and 2005.
That, he says, gives the project some flexibility to change direction in response to the market.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.