Residential development pulls retailers |

Residential development pulls retailers

U. Earl Dunn

Retailers are still chasing housetops in the Truckee Meadows.

But many have turned their attention northward to that vast expanse of raw land known as the Spanish Springs Valley.

“We are a hot item,” says Sparks’ community development director Randy Mellinger.

“Not just locally, but nationwide.”

Indeed, if expectations meet planning projections, the City of Sparks will one day be a city of 120,000 people and the development that will foster such growth will occur largely along State Route 445, also known as Pyramid Highway, out to the northern reaches of the Sparks city limits and beyond.

The first national retailer to open its doors along Pyramid Highway about 1.2 miles north of McCarran Boulevard will be Kohl’s, a Menomonee, WI.-based department store that is the fastest-growing chain in the country today.

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On or about October 1, it will open two stores in northern Nevada one on a 41-acre site east of Pyramid where an extension of Los Altos Parkway will connect, and the other in south Reno at Damonte Ranch.

Bill Fleiner, a Reno-based commercial real estate specialist, represents Rialto LLC, a Minneapolis-St.

Paul-based firm that is developing Spanish Springs Town Center.

The 667,000 square foot retail project will encompass a total of 76 acres, spanning both the east and west sides of Pyramid at the new Los Altos Parkway extension.

Fleiner says he has been working nonstop since last June on the Town Center project and the response has been very good.

“Retailers are always in pursuit of growing residential populations,” he says.

“Kohl’s is going to be a very big tenant.

It focuses on the 22 to 40 age group and if you look at the demographics on the Town Center web site, you’ll understand why they want to be in Sparks.”

Within two weeks, Fleiner also expects to be able to announce a second retail tenant on the western portion of the project.

Other developers who are actively pursuing their own projects in the burgeoning Spanish Springs area believe the unnamed tenant will likely be Wal-Mart which is known to want to build one of its superstores in Spanish Springs.

Amy Hill, community development director for Wal-Mart, acknowledged that her company is definitely interested in putting one of its combination grocerydepartment stores out in Spanish Springs, but says there will not be any announcement in the immediate future.

“There may be an announcement in the near future, but it is not imminent,” she says, noting also that the company has been in discussion with more than one developer.

Fleiner says he is presently talking to several prospective tenants who are interested in the Town Center East project.

“If our talks continue to proceed well, we could be under construction there late this year and hopefully finish by mid-2005,” he says.

At present, there are three different developments at or near this site.

In addition to the Town Center development, the Tanamera group is working to bring a mix of residential, office and commercial retail to its Sparks Galleria which would be located along an extension of Disc Drive which will also connect with Pyramid.

The extensions of both Los Altos Parkway and Disc Drive will, thus, link the new retail centers with Vista Boulevard to the east.

A third developer is Birmingham, Ala.-based AIG Baker.

Sparks city officials say the AIG Baker development is not as far along as the other two, but acknowledge the developer could have something to announce in the near future.

“They (AIG) are a national force and they move at their own pace,” says Sparks’ Mellinger.

“But when they are ready, they have the ability to move quickly.”

AIG Baker already has one development in Northern Nevada that is up and running.

“They would probably like to duplicate what they did in Douglas County with some mid-size boxes, companies such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Borders and the like,” says Gary Johnson, senior vice president of Colliers International.

Johnson has many large retail clients.

One he represents is Home Depot.

“We definitely want to be out there in Spanish Springs,” he says.

“We are looking at the Kiley Ranch North property that is located in the northeast corner where Sparks Boulevard connects with Pyramid.

“The Kiley Ranch North developer will have available between 60 and 80 acres and I think, between the Los Altos/Disc Drive development and Kiley Ranch North, these two areas will essentially soak up most of the commercial development within the next two to three years.

Between Queen Way just north of McCarran, Pyramid Highway presently has only two traffic signals as you move north.

One is at Sparks Boulevard which becomes Highland Ranch Parkway on the west that empties out onto Sun Valley Boulevard.

The second is at LaPosada several miles north.

This will abruptly change.

By mid-summer, there will be two new traffic signals on Pyramid, one at the Disc Drive extension, the other at the Los Altos extension.Within three years, city officials say there will be at least three additional traffic signals on Pyramid Highway.

Additionally, the Regional Transportation Commission suggests in its 2030 masterplan that Pyramid will likely have to be widened to accommodate increased traffic.