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Office building purchasers drawn by activity

Judith Harlan

It can’t hurt to have an internationally known architect designing a building for the vacant lot next door to the building you just bought.

The news,when it finally moved from rumor stage to renderings and a press conference, was positive, says Chris Croisdale, one of the new owners of the old Harrah’s garage at 300 E.

2nd St.

The 35-floor and 21-floor towers being designed by New York architect Carlos Zapata and developed by a team led by Reno businessman Nello Gonfiantini III, sit right up next to Croisdale’s newly purchased building.

But the modern, new towers were not a deciding factor in the group’s decision to plunk down $17.3 million for the 15-story office/parking building.

The group, organized as MLCC, Inc.,with Croisdale and fellow investor Mark Litman at the head, has invested together in the past, chiefly in Southern California, in offices, commercial and industrial properties.

They’ve been shopping Reno for a couple of years, says Croisdale.And they realized the 2nd Street building was at the outside edge of the downtown circle, but the team’s vision included positioning it more as a part of downtown.”And the new towers get us that much closer,” he says.

But if it hadn’t been the towers going in, he reasoned that something would have been built there.”In downtown areas like Reno’s, large empty lots don’t stay vacant long,” he says.

The overall redevelopment push for down town was a greater impetus for the investors.

“When you go to an area and see so much going on Wingfield Park, the river kayak course, the Comstock condo conversion, the Siena Hotel Spa & Casino it’s positive.”

The plan for the East 2nd Street property? Keeping it simple: rebranding and repositioning.

The rebranding starts immediately.Which presents the first challenge.

The property was rebranded by previous owners as the Truckee River Office Tower.

Didn’t stick.

Says Croisdale, it’s still known by many as the Harrah’s garage.

The new name is still to be decided.

The building was on the market for about six months during which it fell out of escrow once, says Todd Blonsley,managing broker with Marcus & Millichap, the agent on the sale.

Croisdale purchased it in mid-April.

It’s an unusual building,with office space on the first floor, parking on floors two through 11, and offices again on the 12th through 15th floors.

Croisdale purchased it with a 25 percent vacancy rate in its 146,000 square feet of office space.

The vacancy is part of the repositioning opportunity, says Croisdale.He’s seeking tenants for build-to-suit as well as ready-to-lease spaces in the building.

Leasing broker is Ken Stark of Stark and Associates Commercial Real Estate.

Meanwhile, the building is going through a remodel,with exterior and interior common area redesign by architect Jim Mickey of the WorthGroup.