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Local retailers, restaurateurs see opportunity in vacant spaces

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on

Some local retailers and restaurant owners are taking a deep breath and leasing shopping center and shop spaces left vacant by the pandemic.

They want to be ready to take advantage of an economic recovery in coming months, and they figure that existing spaces provide a cost-effective way to open new locations

Shawn Smith, a first vice president who specializes in retail properties in the Reno office of the brokerage firm CBRE, says he is seeing leasing interest from independent retailers.

“We have seen demand for strong in-fill locations from local and experienced retailers and restaurants that are taking advantage of fully improved second-generation spaces, thus saving capital on the tenant improvements,” Smith says.

That interest is helping to soak up some of the retail and restaurant space left vacant as the result of this year’s economic slowdown and COVID-19 restrictions.

Nearly 7% of the retail space in Reno and Sparks was vacant this fall, CBRE researchers found, and the amount of vacant space had increased by about 70,000 square feet during the third quarter of this year.

Sparks and downtown Reno were especially hard hit by the rise in vacant retail and restaurant locations.

The only part of town to see less vacant space, the brokerage firm said, was North Valleys. But the increase in occupied space in that neighborhood was small, only about 5,000 square feet.

CBRE said the retailers who closed their doors after the pandemic included locally owned firms that were teetering even before the COVID restrictions as well as some large retailers — Stein Mart, Pier 1 Imports — that had their own struggles.

But the changing social landscape brought opportunity to other retailers.

Quick-serve restaurants with drive-through service, for instance, thrived as other eateries were forced to limit seating capacity and require face coverings.

In-N-Out and Starbucks acquired sites for expansion in the Reno-Sparks area, and CBRE executives expect the trend to continue well into next year.

New retail projects also are just over the horizon. The Village at Rancharrah, a 60,000-square-foot project, will be putting finishing touches on some of its spa, boutique and restaurant spaces in coming months. Also in the pipeline is the renovation of Reno Public Market — the old Shoppers Square — and the first retail space at the Reno Experience District that’s coming to reality on the site once occupied by Park Lane Mall.

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