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Vacancies common in tech offices

Anne Knowles

Is the high technology industry going

to be the boon for northern Nevada that

the area has been counting on?

“High tech has been somewhat overplayed,”

said Perry Di Loreto, managing

member, Nevada Tri partners, developers

of Damonte Ranch, a commercial, residential

and recreational development

going up on 1,962 acres in Truckee

Meadows.

Damonte Ranch is one of several office

developments in the area designed to

attract and house high technology companies.

They were heavily promoted as meccas

for the world’s leading industry.

Quoted in nearly every marketing

brochure was the Forbes/Milken Institute

study raking Reno 22nd in the top 25

cities in which to do business.

But that was when high tech was on a

roll, not only in Silicon Valley but in

Nevada, too.

The number of high-tech businesses in

Nevada nearly doubled in six years, from

763 companies in 1995 to 1,468 in 2000,

according to the American Electronics

Association. At the same time, venture

capital investments in the state soared,

from less than $1 million in 1995 to $39.2

million in 2001, according to the AEA.

High tech exports also jumped.Nevada

was the fourth fastest growing state in

growth of high tech exports between 1997

and 2001. Exports rose 154 percent, from

$191 million in 1997 to $486 million last

year, according to the AEA.

But those 2001 exports represented a

30 percent drop from 2000, when exports

reached an all-time high of $697 million.

Since then things have gone downhill.

The Reno-Tahoe Tech Center, developed

by Tanamera Commercial

Development, opened with much fanfare

in April 2001. The 70-acre office park, with

the misfortune of having “tech” in its name,

so far is the home to only to Redundant

Systems. A second tenant, Twelve Horses

North America, a web-based marketing firm,

is preparing to move in.

One of the more publicized high tech

letdowns has been iGo Corp., the wireless

accessories supplier that was bought out by

Mobility Electronics Inc. earlier this

month. The company once employed 248

people locally and leased space in the

South Meadows Business Park, an office

park developed by L. Lance Gilman

Commercial Real Estate Services.

Earlier this year the company moved to

smaller quarters and reduced its workforce

to about 100. And its future presence here,

as a subsidiary of Scottsdale, Ariz.,

Mobility, is uncertain.

Much bigger companies than iGo were

starting to flock to the area. But much of the

office space once leased by those industry

bigwigs is now vacant.

“Cisco people love the area,” said Michael

Schnabel, principal, CB Richard Ellis, the

commercial real estate developer in Reno,

referring to Cisco Systems Inc., the San Jose,

Calif., networking company, once one of the

fastest growing companies in the world.

Cisco leased lots of office space in South

Meadows, Reno, said Schnabel, and is now

trying to unload the bulk of it. “We have

15,000 square feet of Cisco space to rid of,”

he said. “You wouldn’t believe how much

space Cisco is getting rid of nationwide.”

That’s led to what Colliers

International calls the Plug and Play

office. The concept has been imported

from the San Francisco Bay Area, the market

hardest hit by the high tech and dotcom

bust, said Libby Frantz, office leasing

specialist at Colliers in Reno.

A Plug and Play office is created when

one tenant, who has already furnished, wired

and otherwise prepared a space for occupancy,

decides to sublease it instead. Colliers, for

example, has one such office now available in

Park West Center in South Meadows – a

26,512-square-foot space left vacant but

ready-for-occupancy by ShareGate Inc., a

Reno-based DSL provider.

That’s the good news in all this, according

to Damonte Ranch’s Di Loreto. He

says that an office designed to please a

high tech company should, in this day and

age, satisfy any type of business.

“A good high tech office park is simply

a good office park,” said Di Loreto. “It just

means it has been provisioned for fiber and

high speed networking. Whoever moves

in there can take advantage of the

infrastructure.”

“All this high tech talk,” he said, ” has

been overused and worn out.”


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