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Vacant Sparks big box store to become “work-live-make innovation hub”


Developers plan to invest $30 million in the former Lowe’s Home Improvement Center on Oddie Boulevard—vacant since early 2012—to create another multi-function “district” in the Truckee Meadows. Its largest tenant: The Generator.  

But the non-profit arts collective and maker space, which lost its home earlier this year and has been partially and temporarily residing at the unfinished Reno Public Market, will have to wait to move in. Developers still need to close on the sale of the building, which was purchased by Renown Health in 2016 and planned to house its support services. Renown abandoned that plan.

The Generator plans to move in after the sale is final. Remaining construction won’t begin until February 2021, with the first phases available for occupancy in September. Full completion of the site is planned for early 2022.

Once complete, The Oddie District is slated to combine flex-tech offices, the maker space, small shops and work-live studios for both artists and entrepreneurs all into 200,000 square feet of the former big box store. There’s also an art park featuring artworks created at The Generator planned for the former garden center portion of the building.

Image: The Oddie District

Developers Foothill Partners and Innovation Collective said they hope their project will help to reinvigorate the aging Sparks neighborhood. Foothill Partners, also behind the transformation of Shoppers Square into the Reno Public Market, specializes in creative, adaptive reuse of existing structures. It also aligns itself with local arts communities, according to its Director of Arts and Culture Nettie Oliverio.

“To pull all this together in the shell of a vacant big-box retail building makes it all the better,” said Doug Wiele, president of Foothill Partners, as he discussed the convergence of innovation and creation at the site. “Projects such as The Oddie District demonstrate the power of socially responsible investment strategies. We look forward to attracting the kinds of businesses that can help us build culture at The Oddie District.”

Part of the culture of The Oddie District will likely also be inspired by Innovation Collective, which supports entrepreneurship and innovation through mentorship, trainings and other events. The group, which works with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development to launch innovation communities across the state, will provide 12,500 square feet of collaborative office spaces next door to The Generator.

“For the last eight years, we have been working in cities to ignite creative community and share the amazing innovations of those cities with big brands and venture capitalists,” said Nick Smoot, CEO of Innovation Collective. “At full tilt, we will be running about 70 events per year in the Sparks area… We’ve developed experiences to help creators and entrepreneurs as they explore their self-talk, money management, health, goal setting, community engagement and more. Authentic community and value creation are the goals.” 

Other plans for The Oddie District’s square footage include:

  • 60,000 square feet of flex-tech space for technology, research, engineering, software and design companies
  • 8,000 square feet for a brewery/distillery with a covered open-air seating area and events stage
  • 10,000 square feet for additional food and drink options
  • 9,000 square feet for small shops and business services
  • Additional space for work-live studios

For more information about the Oddie District, visit OddieDistrict.com.

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