Target redevelopment a challenge |

Target redevelopment a challenge

John Seelmeyer

Gary Johnson has been handling commercial real estate deals for 25 years.

And in that time, finding new tenants for the old Target store at Moana and Kietzke lanes proved one of the toughest assignments yet for the senior vice president of Colliers International in Reno.

Work is nearing completion on a major renovation of the building, which is home to Ashley Furniture and Sportsmen’s Warehouse stores.

As Johnson began his search in early 2003 for new tenants on behalf of an owner based in Bellevue,Wash., he quickly found his hopes to find a single big-box retailer to lease the 105,000-square-foot building weren’t going to come to reality.

“All of the big guys already are within a mile of that building,” Johnson said last week.

“Trying to find a single tenant for that building was impossible.”

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His difficulties were compounded because bigbox retailers typically look at newly developing commercial areas rather than redevelopment infill projects such as the Target building.

The numbers pointed up the issue: Within a mile radius of the building, household income averages $41,795.

Get out to a three-mile radius, however, and the number jumps to $68,691.

So executives of Colliers and members of the owner’s team kicked around some alternative ideas such as a set of small shops facing Moana and a couple of medium-sized stores facing west.

At the same time, Johnson was working with Stuart Utgaard, the owner of Sportsman’s Warehouse, who was looking for a Reno store.

Johnson initially didn’t include the old Target building in the list of potential properties for Sportsman’s Warehouse.

The sporting goods store required 26-foot ceilings; the old Target store’s ceilings were barely 20 feet.

So why not simply tear off the roof and raise the walls? Not so simple, Johnson learned.

The footings of the building were designed to bear a given amount of weight.

An additional 6 feet of walls might be too much.

Creative engineering provided the solution: New columns inside the walls would bear the weight of the roof.

When that weight was removed from the walls, the structure could support another six feet of walls and a new roof.

But, added Johnson, “It was very expensive.” Sportsmen’s Warehouse proved to be a good fit in another way.

Because the building is nearly square 320 feet in each direction Johnson needed to find a tenant who wanted a deep retail space.

That’s the model Sportsmen’s Warehouse has followed in other cities.

And because Sportsman’s Warehouse took a deep space across the south side of the building, that left a store with a broad front facing Moana Lane the storefront leased by Ashley Furniture to make its entry into the Reno market.

A multitude of small issues remained.

Striping of the parking lot, for instance.

Crews are striping the lot anew, which also meant moving light poles and planters as well.

The issue? The old lot featured diagonal parking.

Many customers of Sportsman’s Warehouse, however, arrive pulling boats behind their vehicle.

They can park across two spots only if the lot is striped for head-in parking, Johnson said.