Steamboat plan: 400 apartments, commercial space
A group of four longtime Reno businessmen have big plans for a 101-acre parcel of land on the southeast corner of Highway 395 and Geiger Grade.
Don Wilkerson, Art Hinckley, Dennis Banks and Dan Oster purchased the property for $2.05 million in late December and plan a large mixed-use development that includes some garden-style apartments and commercial flex space.
The north side of the land currently is entitled for 400 multi-family units, Wilkerson says. The south side is entitled for flex industrial — industrial space that includes an office/retail component.
The land had been owned since 2005 by Station Casinos, which planned to build a hotel-casino on the property prior to the recession. Wilkerson says Las Vegas-based Station Casinos changed its plans once Interstate 580 was completed and shifted much of the north and southbound traffic away from the site.
“The change in the freeway location probably didn’t fit with what they wanted for exposure,” he says. “But it is still a gateway into Reno. We want to build a quality project. As local guys who grew up here, we want to maintain the integrity of the property.”
Wilkerson, Hinckley and Banks have known each other since junior high school. Oster has ties to each through his work as an industrial broker for NAI Alliance.
The deal came together extremely fast, Wilkerson says. The businessmen first heard about the deal in October and were informed it had to close before Jan. 1 of 2015. Purchase also includes some pre-paid sewer and water rights.
Despite just recently closing escrow on the property, Wilkerson already has fielded phone calls from groups seeking to develop portions of the land, particularly the multi-family component. Wilkerson has spoken to investors and development groups in Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Diego and even overseas.
“We have had interest from guys who either want to buy some land for development or joint venture with us for high-end or quality apartments,” he says. “I don’t think we would make this a super-high-end project. What this community needs are good quality, old-fashioned garden apartments that appeal to the widest number of people.”
The group is well positioned to develop the land: Wilkerson has built apartments and flex commercial space in many parts of Reno; Banks has erected several million square feet of commercial property throughout the Truckee Meadows; Hinckley has extensive business background as former president of Berry-Hinckley Enterprises; and Oster is a leasing and marketing specialist.
“I understand putting deals together and marketing properties, but there’s a lot more to real estate and that’s what these guys all bring,” Oster says. “Don understands what makes properties work over time. Dennis is one of pre-eminent builders in town known for bring projects in on budget and on time. Art, with the investment and financial acumen that he brings, whatever opportunity arises for this land we have a team that can execute on it.”
The last piece of the puzzle is creating a greenbelt or open space for Steamboat Creek, which runs through the heart of the parcel. The developers plan to utilize the feature to create an open space or nature area accessible to the public.
They also must tie in sewer lines that terminate at Curti Ranch to the property. The developers plan to foot the bill for that portion of development.
Wilkerson says the group may sell some individual parcels with some design stipulations and architectural controls. They may also consider trying to re-entitle some portions of the land to either add additional apartments or change some of its existing usages.
“We are not looking to flip this,” Wilkerson says. “We probably will get started in the spring with a more definitive plan. It may be we don’t get to the south part of the project for five or seven years.
“We are not looking at a major neighborhood shopping center,” he adds. “I have the team in place to do some development. We may sell, we may JV, or do a combination of both. From a business standpoint, it wouldn’t break my heart to sell off a chunk and use that to extend the sewer and get whole in the project.”
Tiffiany Howard, a UNLV professor and recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation senior research fellow, is the lead author of the study aimed at identifying ways banks can help support and invest in Black entrepreneurs.