SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) — While single family home and apartment construction is strong in Sparks there is a different reality for commercial construction.
“I think the market for new commercial space is very very weak,” said the City of Sparks Assistant Community Services Director, Armando Ornelas.
Local business leaders say there are two main reasons.
One is the pandemic.
Uncertainty made it hard for commercial developers to move forward.
While grocery and home improvement stores experienced a growth in sales other businesses like restaurants, clothing stores, and retail saw a drop in revenue.
The second reason commercial construction is not growing at the same rate as multi-family and single-family homes is a new reality call it the “Amazon effect”, which is the disruption eCommerce has made on the retail market.
During the pandemic many shoppers feared a trip to the store so instead of making the journey to the nearest brick-and-mortar location they opted to shop from the comfort of their electronic devices.
One exception is the New Victorian Square north of the Nugget Casino Resort.
KOLO 8 News Evening Anchor Noah Bond asked the lead developer and president of Silverwing Development J Carter Witt III what he thinks about the “Amazon effect”.
“We don’t have that situation here. In a lifestyle community you have more entertainment related realtors and much of their existence is tied to the activities around them,” Witt said. “For example, Amazon can’t put on an evening concert and show you basically how to make wine.”
He’s referring to Engine 8 Urban Winery at 1260 Avenue of the Oaks suite 150 next to the Galaxy Theaters in the New Victorian Square.
“Things are improving. I can tell you for example this last weekend the winery had the best weekend since it opened,” Witt said.
“And how was that? What was the turnout?” Bond.
“It was packed,” responded Witt.
He then proceeded to give Bond a tour of his development to try and illustrate how he says the Winery is beating Amazon.
He introduced Bond to Engine 8 Urban Winery Owner, Mike Rawson.
“So over here is our bottling, corking, and labeling,” he said.
Many of the wines that are manufactured on site are put in bottles with label pictures featuring local landmarks including downtown Reno, Lake Tahoe, Sparks Marina, and Last Chance Joe.
“We get all our grapes out of Lodi, California. We ferment it in these 1,000-liter tanks (pointing to several large round metal-looking containers) right here so we have fifteen 1,000-liter tanks. We process about 21 different wines in here at any given time,” Rawson.
Across the street is Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen and even farther away is Pinon Bottle. The latter has special touches like a bar made from pinon wood, a game area, and a garage door ready to open on warm sunny days.
More commercial development is planned for the New Victorian Square.
For example, plans are in place for two fenced areas directly north of the Nugget Casino.
“Both of those are in planning now. The entire ground floors will be commercial,” Witt.
“Can you announce specifically what kinds of stores or businesses will be put in place here?” Bond.
“I can tell you the end caps, which is the corner here on the northside and the corner on the southside, which faces Victorian Avenue will be retail restaurants,” Witt replied.
The space in-between will be service retail.
“We’ve had a number of inquiries for office space, and we too may move our office over here,” Witt.
There’s also word of a sports bar and a medical services company moving into this area.
“The Urban Grocery Store. We’re looking for it to be in the space next to where Dotty’s Casino currently exists. Dotty’s is moving from that location to another location,” Witt.
Ornelas says another challenge facing Sparks is that the City doesn’t have enough land to accommodate the projected needs for industrial space.
City Leaders will likely have to rezone or try and grow the boundaries to allow for future manufacturing growth.
The City of Sparks is anticipating a new Winco south of La Posada near Pyramid Highway.
It’s designed to be an 80,000 square foot grocery store and is located about eight miles north of the current Winco in northeast Reno. This development could attract other stores to this area as well.
This Winco could open by December 2021.
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