Reno’s Shoppers Square: Summer 2018 upgrades decades in the making
Read more: Northern Nevada Real Estate Journal, April 2018This is among a series of stories included in the April 2018 edition of the Northern Nevada Real Estate Journal (NNREJ), which the NNBW publishes on a quarterly basis to provide various real estate market updates across the region. To read more from the April 2018 series of NNREJ stories, click the links below:• Reno’s Melissa Molyneaux: ‘I have always loved learning about people’• Amid Sears, Toys ‘R’ Us closures, Northern Nevada retail market forges ahead• Reno-Sparks area sets record at $375,000 for median home prices• Need for Reno-area big box space key focus in tightening industrial market
RENO, Nev. — The Casazza name is synonymous with Shoppers Square — the family founded the shopping center at Plumb Lane and Virginia Street in 1962, and the center still is wholly owned by the Casazza family.
Rick Casazza, senior vice president for retail services for Colliers International’s Reno office, has overseen management of the property for years and says the aging center is overdue for a sweeping renovation.
When longtime tenants Sheplers Western Wear, Tuesday Morning and Marshall’s all vacated the center, Casazza began looking at other leases that were set to expire.
With the loss of the three anchor tenants, Casazza began kicking around the idea of modernizing the entire 155,000-square-foot property.
His timing proved to be fortuitous. Longtime acquaintance Doug Wiele, founder and president of Foothill Partners of El Dorado Hills, Calif., was looking for a shopping center in Reno to renovate as a means of establishing a beachhead in Northern Nevada.
Foothill Partners specializes in repurposing obsolete and under-utilized commercial real estate — the very definition of the 55-year old Shoppers Square.
“I knew I didn’t want it to be what it was,” Casazza says of Shopper’s Square. “Two-story retail doesn’t work. Doug jumped at the chance, and things started moving very quickly.”
Casazza and Wiele have worked for more than two years to hammer out myriad details of a total renovation and define the look and feel of the project.
And with its wide-open public dining space, tasteful exterior, plentiful planters and ample space to move freely move about, the renovated center will look nothing like the existing property.
The development team plans to demolish about 24,000 square feet of two-story retail at the front of the center and open up the enclosed two-story mall that extends the length of property to turn it into a 20,000-square-foot public dining and marketplace.
The property left standing will be re-skinned with a new façade, and about 6,000-square feet at the back of the property will be removed to improve access for shoppers coming in from Casazza Drive and Wells Avenue.
Other key features include the addition of a 16,000-square-foot brewery and taproom that’s part of larger rollout from a current popular concept in the region, and the addition of a yet-to-be-named specialty grocer in 30,000 square feet to serve the needs of nearby residents, especially the younger tech and professional workers that call the Midtown District home.
CVS will stay at the center and move into the renovated Sheplers site once work is completed. The CVS store at Shopper’s Square is one of the center’s original tenants, though it started out as Scaggs drug store.
One of Casazza’s first jobs was at Scaggs, but he’s been a retail real estate broker in Northern Nevada for more than 30 years.
About six existing tenants also will remain at Shoppers Square, and nearby businesses such as IHOP, McDonald’s and Bank of America are staying in their current locations as well. There’s also plenty of space to house another anchor tenant and additional businesses.
Other improvements including bringing disabled access, fire safety equipment, storm drains stormwater treatment and the like up to date, as well as upgrading utilities, data, power and air conditioning systems — work that almost always brings on unforeseeable challenges in urban redevelopment projects.
Wiele says construction crews, managers and architects have scoured every square inch of the property, as well as pored over all the original design blueprints – which fortunately were in Casazza’s possession since his father was the architect on the project.
“It has been a lot of homework,” Wiele says. “Big portions of this project are still structurally sound, and we are content we are doing it the right way. That is our business.
“It is new architecture everywhere, and a bit of new construction as part of the core of the project,” Wiele adds. “There’s a lot of choreography in this.”
Local architect Jeff Frame and Melton Design Group of Chico are the architects of record on the project, but the developers haven’t settled on a general contractor. For Casazza, the new project carries on his family’s lengthy history of ownership – long before the property became Shoppers Square it was the Casazza family ranch.
“It is the next phase,” he says. “We have always tried to evolve the project into something new, make it relevant and bring new tenants to the marketplace. It is a natural progression to meet the needs of the community.”
The redevelopment of the adjacent Park Lane site by Reno Urban Developers, which will include a mix of residential, retail and office space at the 45.6 acre-lot, along with the continued resurgence of the nearby Midtown District, both help drive retail traffic back to that part of town.
“It brings back a jewel to the corner of south Virginia and Plumb Lane,” Casazza says. “We are bringing together three communities – Virginia and Plumb, Wells Avenue and Midtown. It is a great tie-in. People are excited about what’s happening. It’s time to make a big jump, and this is a big one.”
The developers expect to break ground in late third quarter. The project will be funded by Foothill Partners and a pool of private capital investors.
“For this type of project, the world is awash in capital,” Wiele says. “It’s well located in a great trade area. It’s really great real estate in a wonderful neighborhood, and it’s really consistent with our core values and what we think is important. We focus on rebuilding communities and infill real estate. This is exactly what excites us, and we have the privilege to do it.”
Demolition will be completed in three phases: asbestos abatement, interior demolition and exterior demolition. The first two phases have already begun inside the 150,000-square-foot retail location formerly known as Shoppers Square; the first visual of outside demolition will be in early October on the northwest corner of the project.