One of the busiest intersections in all of Northern Nevada has been literally nothing more than a huge hole in the ground for decades. That’s set to change this summer, though.
The southeast corner of McCarran Boulevard and South Virginia Street, which sees more than 43,000 vehicles pass by daily, will become the home of a new multi-story office and retail project by McKenzie Properties.
Todd McKenzie says Skypointe Reno will benefit residents of the Truckee Meadows for decades.
“It’s a property that I have always loved — it’s the best office and retail property in town,” McKenzie said in a March interview. “For me, this is a dream project, and it’s definitely a legacy project.”
Skypointe Reno will feature a six-story office tower of 180,000 square feet, as well as 35,000 square feet of retail split among three buildings and a five- to six-story parking garage that includes one level of below-ground parking. The garage will hold roughly 1,000 vehicles.
McKenzie expects to break ground this summer and bring the project online after an 18- to 24-month construction schedule. It will be just the second speculative office building taller than three stories built in Reno-Sparks in the last three decades, McKenzie says.
The last two were the five-story brick building anchored by U.S. Bank on Neil Road by Meadowood Mall and the Museum Tower downtown.
McKenzie Properties’ speculative office building at 5520 Kietzke Lane was the first spec office building greater than three stories constructed in the region since 1987. That building came online in January 2019 and is fully leased.
“In 32 years we have not built an office building over three stories,” McKenzie says. “The city has a lack of Class A office supply, and we need more to accommodate the growth that Reno is enjoying. There are zero Class A spaces 20,000 square feet and above, so we are meeting the demand for that absolute lack of supply for larger quality Class A office space in this market.
“Companies looking at tertiary markets like Reno, Boise, Phoenix or Salt Lake simply move on from Northern Nevada because there’s no availability in 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000 square-foot Class A office spaces. We are losing companies to other cities that have this type of product.”
McKenzie Properties will work with CBRE to lease the new office space, while Colliers International will handle retail leasing.
“Reno lacks large contiguous blocks of space, especially in the Class A office category,” Matt Grimes, first vice president with the office team at CBRE, says.“Skypointe, with onsite retail amenities, will provide Reno a true Class A office environment in a mixed-use setting, which is something that simply does not exist in Reno today.
“When tenants outside the market are considering a relocation to our area, they are often looking for an environment that will be the right fit for their corporate culture and will serve in attracting and retaining employees who often have to make a move to the region. The Skypointe project will appeal to a broader range of companies outside of this market.”
Despite its prime location, the prize piece of land sat dormant for decades. The project brings about several development challenges primarily associated with the parking garage since the first level of parking will be underground.
That level requires extensive mechanical, ventilation, fire suppression and electrical work, and it also must be engineered to support the platform for the retail and office structures above.
“That has not been done in this city, and it’s a major challenge,” McKenzie says.
McKenzie is working with world-renowned architectural firm Gensler of San Francisco on primary design and engineering for Skypointe, as well as Miyamoto, Glumac and Wood Rodgers for structural, mechanical and other work.
McKenzie says there are a limited number of companies that specialize in underground structural concrete work, so availability isn’t a concern. The project has not yet been let to bid for construction. As of this story’s writing in late March, plans should be complete in the next few weeks, and the bidding process should commence soon after.
Fortuitously, though, there’s not a lot of excavation that needs to take place once work does commence since site grade dips about 8 feet from the existing sidewalk.
“Because it’s a hole, we have a little bit of a head start,” McKenzie says. “The grade of the project starts about a foot from the corner of the sidewalk — that’s the high-water mark.”
McKenzie says Skypointe Reno will elevate the consciousness of the entire city and potentially spur similar types of infill development.
“You get one shot to get this right,” he says. “We have spent a lot of time thinking about the best and highest use, what’s best for the community, and the most needed product. All the ingredients that make a great project, we have been really thoughtful and careful about approaching because we want to do it right.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to develop this corner for the benefit of our entire community. We are providing a product that’s timely and that Reno really needs if we are going to attract the companies and high-paying jobs we want to attract. That’s why we are doing this project.”