2305 Sagittarius

The Realtors get really pissy when I post their “copyrighted photos” from the MLS, so you will have to go the LISTING for the visual treat.  This is a singular vision property, to say the least.  A couple of gallons of Navajo White?  And we now know where Santa Summers!

Downtown / Midtown Sales

195 W 2nd Street is the Olympic Motel.  This 20 unit motel/weekly was purchased for $890,000 in 2001 and completely remodeled in 2006, and sold for $858,949 in August 2008.  The transaction appears to be a deed in lieu of foreclosure and a resale by the bank for $565,000 or $28,250 per door.

180 E 1st Street is the about-to be-former home of Men Wielding Fire and La Familgia before that.  Purchased by the developer of the proposed Waterfront Tower condos for $578,801 in October 2003, and foreclosed upon in November 2011 and for sale ever since.  New sales price this week was $255,000.

600 S Center Street sold last week for $580,000.  This is a 6000 SF commercial building on a double lot in the heart of Midtown, and last sold for $573,500 in December 2002.  $97/SF.  Maytan Music at 777 Center recently sold for $1.4M or $58/SF and included an additional lot.

1700 SVA is an odd little building wedged between a used car lot and a donut shop.  Quite a bit of land was added to the back of the site when Holcomb Street was realigned.  Purchased for $359,999 in July 2008, and resold for $229,000 or $144/SF.  When I looked at the building, I couldn’t get any use to pencil at over $100/SF.

894 S Center Street is an end unit in the 8 on Center project that pioneered Midtown redevelopment.  “Sold” for $495,000 to establish a comp for the other units, the property was foreclosed on in November 2011, and resold for $189,900 in January 2012.  The unit sold 2 weeks ago for $330,000.

Name It

OpenThe New York Times ran THIS article today, painting an interesting and accurate picture of the changing Reno.  “Start Up Row” was probably coined by some burned out hipsters at the Bar bar on 1st Street, but the name has stuck and gained traction.  If you believe hard enough, perception can become truth – maybe this really will become our start up district.

Look at Midtown.  It was just a marketing name 5 years ago, but the name stuck (SODO and many others did not).  Today it is place to be in Reno.

Curiously enough, I ran into a new district moniker today, the Brewery District.  The property is 401 E 4th Street and is dramatically over priced, but the area really IS becoming a brewery and distillery district, along with restaurants, nightclubs and small businesses.  Is the Brewery District Reno’s next big thing?

“Where Next?” is a question I am asked a lot.  West of Wells and Midtown seem to have their own gravity going on at this point, and though there is much infill and gentrification yet to be done, the real estate deals are long gone.  I have some ideas of mini-neighborhoods I think are ripe for redevelopment.  Send me your ideas and I’ll include them in a What’s Next post.   eabo56@charter.net


Help Wanted


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MovingDirtF and P Construction is airing THIS ad on local TV.  I’ve never seen a media campaign by a contractor before.  Why do I suspect all applicants will need to sign a non disclosure agreement?

F and P is the permit holder for the grubbing of 520 acres at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center aka TRIC.  It sounds like work on the Tesla site is going hardcore.

Tesla Grub Permit-page-0

WG Yates was conducting interviews at a Midtown restaurant last week.  They have built the only large-scale lithium-ion battery plant in the US for Nissan, and they are presumed to be Tesla’s General Contractor.  One interviewee was overheard claiming experience in projects of this size and scope  (10,000,000 SF) and was chastised that NO ONE has experience on a project like this.  He did not make it to round 2.  I’d feel a lot better if Yates wasn’t advertizing to hire at their San Antonio office.

Tesla is here, folks.

Turning Dirt in Somersett

section8heightsFor the first time in at least 7 years since the ill-timed and ill-fated Ledges project, dirt is being turned on a Somersett project that includes new infrastructure.  Parcel A of Village 5B is about to become 100 SFRs.  For those of you who are not fluent in Developer, it is the lot at the NE corner of 9th Hole Trail and Del Webb Parkway East.  For those of you that don’t care a rat’s patootie about Somersett, here is a map of the project:

Lennar Somersett-page-0OOPs, I gave away the developer with the graphic.  Lennar is taking their virgin run into Somersett development.  They did Sterling Point just outside the gates to Somersett to great success (and significant pain to the buyers) just before the crash.  The are actively completing Canyon Pines just to the east (known as Section 8 Heights to the more well-heeled custom home Somersett dwellers who abut the project).

Monterey Somersett lost the project to the bank with $9.6M owing in mid 2011.  They had started rough grading and some utility work, but they crashed before much work got completed.  The lender panicked and sold the land to Lewis Investments a few months later for $830,495.  Lewis perfected the site entitlements and sold it to Lennar on 9/26/2013 for $6,523,811.  SCORE Lewis!  $65,000 per semi improved lot (though entitled) is astronomically high in this market.  Finished and improved lot costs will end up north of $100K per unit.  It will be very interesting to see what development model Lennar brings to this project to justify the lot costs.

In other Somersett news, the vote to change their CCRs on some technical issues has been extended for the 5th or 6th time.  Apathy reigns in most HOAs.

In more more Somersett news, the HOA has not been presented with a vote on  buying the golf course yet.  The Attorney General’s order to find a solution to the existing illegal agreement expires in August.

Beyond Somersett, Tanamera has posted their plans for the Cottage Row at Midtown project.  Can Midtown assimilate $500K SFRs?  I don’t think the land use is legal under the current zoning, but I’ll take it over the Worst Project Ever.

Midtown XXX

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA-  The “historic” porno palace at 1052 South Virginia Street just got sold.  The purchase price of $574,000 included the 8930 SF building and the parking lots on either side.  The Assessor shows the 2nd floor as apartments!  No word as yet what the new owner Dark Horse Investments LLC Series I aka Jared J. Smith has planned, but a lot of bleach will be involved.

-  Reno just sold 435 Moran Street to Moran St. Senior LLC aka Silver Sage Manor for $432,154.  Reno bought this burned out neighborhood eyesore and used grant money to reconstruct it as 8 units of housing for needy seniors.


-  Our Lady of Perpetual Land Grab is at it again.  A couple of years ago, Our Lady of Snows negotiated the partial abandonment of Lander Street between their school and Plumas Park for “safety” concerns.  Probably not a bad idea in the end in my opinion, and the City got serious improvements to Plumas Park in the deal.  It was very contentious at the neighborhood level, and as I recall, virtually every councilperson had to disclose connections to the church.

The current land grab is asking the City to abandon a full block of Wright Street.  And what for?  PARKING.  An 82 space surface lot in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood, freeing up some space for an administrative office building.  This is going to go thermonuclear as the residents (technically Plumas and not Midtown) have had ENOUGH of this private school dominating their neighborhood.  It might be time for Our Lady of Snows to put on a pair of big boy pants and find a new site for their school like Manogue did.  One that won’t violate the basics of Reno planning policy.  I’m not hopeful that will happen as this is one of Mayor Bob’s legacy projects.  Neighborhood notice is only within 700′ (2 blocks), and this is a heavily rental area – the actual stakeholders won’t know this is going on.  So let you neighbors know what is going on, and what is proposed.  Get involved if you care.


Tesla / Renoish


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Dibs.  I call it.  Tesla has selected our area as their Priority #1 site for their 10,000,000 SF Gigafactory.  I wish the site had been Reno-Stead airport with housing and public transit already in place, but TRIC has a lot going for it.  Storey County for one.  Storey is not a part of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, and can make up their own planning regulations as they go along.  Toxic waste?  Whatever.  Site work has been going on for a month now, if not by Tesla, certainly FOR Tesla.

So welcome, Tesla.  How are we going to deal with you?

The first wave will be the construction workers.  Our current labor pool simply can’t handle a project of this size.  Expect a lot of RVs looking to settle in for a couple of years with owners with Southern accents and Alabama plates.  Their long term managers are already gobbling up any house attached to a good school track (Somersett, Caughlin Ranch, Juniper anything).

The region can probably assimilate 1000 jobs/houses.  6500?  New construction will be needed to meet the supply demand.  Watch for Copper Canyon on Vista in Sparks to go code red.  Ferntucky should see an infusion of new SFR construction.

So we’ve got it.  Tesla is coming our way with $5,000,000.000 in construction and 6500 new jobs.  I can cite 10 or more circumstantial “proofs” that they are coming or already here.  So how are we as a Region  prepared to adapt to this new reality?  How do you get in front of the wave to capitalize on it?

Let me know your thoughts, and contact me with your proposals.

Mickey D’s Midtown

MickeyDThe Midtown Plan specifically denies drive-thrus as an approved use.  This is supposed to be a pedestrian oriented neighborhood after all.  The new owner of the Heritage Bank building at 1401 SVA has an application that will be heard by the City Council tomorrow for an alley abandonment, whose only purpose is to grandfather the bank’s existing drive-thru’s for fast food use.  The STAFF REPORT is tepid at best, but Reno Community Development is supporting the abandonment whole hog.

Pueblo Alley Abandoment-page-0 (1)

The only motivation from the developer to abandon the alley is so that he can get car stacking space for a drive through (he is doing the same trick at the US Banking Building with Starbucks, so I assume this is also his Midtown tenant).  The renderings I have seen only shows 1 drive-thru for the coffee vendor, so 1 more drive-thru position is being reserved for future use.  Mickey D’s?  Popeye’s?  KFC?  Is that what you want for Midtown?

Just Say No.  Contact your Council Member.

Tesla Clues


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TeslaCoilFrom the day Tesla released their first press release and graphics about the Gigafactory, the aerial photo sure reminded me a lot of Northern Nevada.  Specifically, the bowl around Reno Stead Airport.  Here is Tesla’s rendition of the Gigafactory:



SteadGigaTesla-page-2Here is an aerial photo from the Reno Stead Airport web site:

SteadAerialLooks pretty familiar, doesn;t it?  Teslamondo has a detailed comparison of the 2 photos.  Does this mean Tesla is coming here?  No, just that we have been a serious enough contender from day one that they used Stead for their graphic.  HERE is an interesting read on how some Texans view their legislature outlawing Tesla’s direct sales model in the state!

Want another gem of circumstantial evidence?  There is a real estate broker in town tasked with finding 50 executive caliber homes in good neighborhoods to rent or purchase.

I think that in the end, Tesla’s dual (or triple) tracking of sites is a bit of a smoke screen.  The logistics of site purchase, preliminary design, permitting, and entitling for multiple sites would be hugely complex and expensive.  Which also begs the question of who is designing and building this?  Assuming that it is design build, there are probably only 20 or so contractors nationwide with adequate bonding limits.  Ask your friends at Bechtel or Parsons Brinkerhoff what they are working on!

A Minute From Everywhere

BundoxSignI arrived in Reno in time to remember the Bundox.  I certainly remember the River House Motor Hotel, which became an abandoned homeless camp along the Truckee for years.  Karl Breckenridge has a great account of the property’s history.

The site was cleared and merged with an adjacent property to create the proposed Waterfront Towers project.  That died of its own weight during the recession, though scaled back development was proposed.



Foreclosed and back to the bank, this prime 3.35 acre site on the Truckee at 2nd and Lake Streets was purchased yesterday by the creatively named Lake Street Parcel LLC for $1,950,000.  Who turns out to be Simon Equity Partners, the shopping center moguls who own Meadowood Mall and the Reno Aces.

BundoxMap-page-0 (1)I can’t think of a better outcome*.  A prime site already assembled, an experienced developer as the owner, and an owner with cash to make things happen.  I can imagine a riverfront shopping and entertainment district to support the Aces and Downtown.  The site is in the Freight House STAR Bonds district, which could be contentious.
News of the impending sale was leaked at a joint Redevelopment Agency / City Council meeting on Wednesday.  A couple other interesting items from the meeting:
-  The Rink on the River ice skating facility will be moving to the front yard of the Aces Stadium for at least the next 3 years.  The current rink is 85′ x 185′, and the proposed new rink is 85′ x 100′.  The Council was not amused by the pygmy skating facility, and the Aces vowed to make it bigger.  Right.
-  News also leaked out that Reno has been shopping development rights to the existing Rink on the River location on the 10 North Virginia Street Plaza, the former Mapes Hotel.  A corporate HQ facility was mentioned, and I’ve heard about a smaller mixed use development proposal.  City Hall and the Plaza are fairly recent developments.  But it is hard to believe Reno would sell off their/our “protest space” and riverfront access for $1M, about what the site would comp for based on the Bundox and Post Office sales.
Fun times downtown.  Don’t write off Reno just yet.
*  Yes there was a potential better outcome, at least for me.  Our group had the site tied up, but our financing didn’t materialize.  Would have kept me busy for a couple of years.  That said, I think Simon has the vision and capital to create a project for Reno that will make my sacrifice pale.

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