Q&A: CAI Investments CEO talks Reno City Center, Kimpton Hotel projects
RENO, Nev. — A couple years ago, Christopher Beavor was on a bicycle ride with his nephew along the Truckee River in downtown Reno when he was stopped dead in his tracks.
Not by a pedestrian or physical object, but a piece of property — a vacant dirt lot on Court Street across from Wingfield Park.
“I paused and said, ‘wow, this is probably one of the best pieces of property in Northern Nevada,’” Beavor recalled.
Upon returning to his home in Las Vegas, Beavor, CEO of CAI Investments, brought together his team and began exploring development opportunities for the vacant 1.3-acre lot hugging the Truckee River.
Soon, the property will be the site of a 20-story hotel and mixed-used property under the Kimpton Hotel brand, the global boutique franchise based in San Francisco.
The multimillion-dollar project unveiled late last year — and officially announced with the Kimpton name this summer — will consist of 271 hotel rooms, 51 multifamily units, 65,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, Beavor told the NNBW in a recent phone interview.
It’s one of two high-profile projects that Beavor has in the works in downtown Reno, the other being the Reno City Center, a full-scale remodel of the former Harrah’s Reno, which closed for good in June.
According to previous reports, that mixed-use development will include 528 market-rate apartments, 150,000 square feet of new office space and 78,500 square feet of retail space. CAI also plans to covert the Harrah’s Pavilion on Virginia Street into an open-air green space park for apartment residents and the public.
The NNBW recently spoke with Beavor to check in on progress of both large-scale projects and what the opportunities he hopes they bring to downtown Reno.
Q: What’s the vision of the Reno City Center and why is there a need for it in this region?
Beavor: A lot of people think, oh, we’re buying a hotel and we’re going to just put new paint and carpet and keep the existing rooms, and that’s just not the case. We’re transforming an entire new floor plan of walls, electrical and plumbing and exterior walls. It’s going to be a true live, work, play. I think it’s really important for the transformation of the Northern Nevada economy, and especially downtown Reno. Any city needs a healthy and diversified downtown. This will provide much-needed daytime economic life into the community.
Q: Has the pandemic impacted the timetable of the project? What challenges has it presented?
Beavor: The pandemic has not slowed us down at all. It slowed down our closing. We were originally going to close in spring; we ended up closing on September 30. But, in terms of the construction schedule, we’re right on the original timelines. We weren’t anticipating starting construction until September-October of this year — we started October 1st — so it has not impacted our timeline.
Q: What is the timeline for when the first phase of the project will be finished?
Beavor: That original tower along Virginia Street and the outside area with the retail, food and beverage is slated to be complete in 14 months.
Q: How big of a workforce is on the project to pull that off?
Beavor: Right now, we have about 200 workers on staff. And we actually provided a training program where we had to do a lot of abatement and certain OSHA certifications and abatement certification. So we did a week-long training class for over 150 people, and then what we’re also providing is on-the-job training. So, when they’re done with this project, Reno will have close to a couple hundred people that are certified in remediation and abatement, not only with the certifications but also with the training to enforce it.
Q: And what tenants and retailers are lined up to be a part of the property?
Beavor: Currently, we are in talks with a large office user for about 75,000 square feet. We’ll also bring approximately 400 daytime, weekday employees to the project in downtown. We’re hoping to capture a lot of those employees potentially as residents. We’re really close to finalizing the leases, but we’re in talks with a Japanese noodle and steak bar, a chef from Tokyo that has operations in Las Vegas. And we have an operator that is looking to bring in an Irish pub and an interactive tavern concept, and an urban grocery.
Q: What is the timetable for the Kimpton Hotel project off Court Street?
Beavor: It’s a mixed-use project, so we’re expected to start vertical construction at the end of the first quarter of next year. We recorded a $100 million construction loan in July. We’ve already pulled multiple permits for that project — demo and excavation permits. And our structural vertical permit was submitted to (the city of) Reno and we’re anticipating a permit in the next few weeks. We already have a waiting list — unsolicited, we’ve done no marketing to date. We have approximately 51 units and we have a waiting list of about 20 people already. And for our office space, right now we have executed letters of intent for major law firms and we’re in discussion with several publicly traded companies for a large space component there.
Q: For both the Reno City Center apartments and Kimpton multifamily units, what is the range of rent prices?
Beavor: Rent ranges are going to be from $1,350 on up to $2,000-plus (a month). We could have large three-bedroom units with balconies up on the top floors. But a bulk of them will be in the $1,300 to $1,500 price range.
Q: With the region in the midst of a housing shortage, how does the community find a balance between the need to give people high-end housing but also ensure residents who live here can afford to continue to live here?
Beavor: What we bring to the table with the Reno City Center project is live, work, play. The cost of driving is very inefficient and very expensive. Downtown Reno, I think, is a nine out of 10 in terms of walkability. We’re looking at a gym concept, we’re looking to do yoga studios, we’re looking to have a potential medical clinic on site, we have an urban grocery concept going in, we’re looking at even having a doggy daycare facility on site.
All of that would be right there on the property, and the efficiencies are going to be wonderful. So, for somebody that doesn’t need to buy a car and car insurance and car registration, to pay $1,300 a month in rent for that type of lifestyle, it’s very affordable.
Q: Obviously homelessness is a big issue downtown — how is CAI working to address that?
Beavor: We’re working closely with the Downtown Reno Partnership. I’m also on the EDAWN board, and we’ve signed up for Built for Zero homeless program — we just started that right before the pandemic hit. This is a top priority.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about either project?
Beavor: We’re just really excited to be a part of the barn raising here with Reno and really start with the diversification of downtown Reno. There have been a lot of visionaries ahead of us working very hard. We’re just really excited now for all that hard work of repositioning downtown (Reno) and being able to take advantage of the visions and the implementation of all of the hard work that the community leaders have done.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.
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