Pier 1 Imports moving to Carson Valley Plaza

Carson City is losing its Pier 1 Imports store to the new Carson Valley Plaza in north Douglas County. Company spokeswoman Kate Mewhinney said a changing market is the primary reason for the move.

"The opportunity came up to be involved with this new retail area," she said. "Carson City is a very good market and we wanted to be in the best position to serve our customers.

"Retail can change so quickly as far as where the traffic is and where people will shop," she said. "If we can locate where there are some great tenants, it can be a boon for us and for them. They benefit from our traffic and we benefit from theirs."

Seven anchor stores have signed leases for this north Douglas County development, including Cost Plus, Bed Bath and Beyond, Borders Books and Music, Michael's Arts and Crafts, Best Buy, Marshalls Inc. and Petco.

The development is owned by AIG Baker, an Alabama-based company that develops property nationwide. Leasing Manager Fred Reynolds said he is also negotiating with In-N-Out Burger and Quizno's Subs to sign purchase agreements.

Mewhinney said these types of moves, sometimes no more than a mile, are not uncommon for Pier 1.

"I think the residents in Carson City will be pleased with the new store. It's 2,000 square feet larger and everything will be new," she said. "Hopefully, the store will have a better feel about it."

Retail development is a bone of contention between Carson City and Douglas counties. Both are vying for retail business and the sales tax dollars it brings in.

Joe McCarthy, economic development/redevelopment director for Carson City, said Pier 1's decision is a disappointment, but city officials remain optimistic for the long-term.

"Southgate Mall is very viable," he said. "We continue to be proactive, but we were very disappointed to be losing quality retail property like Pier 1 when we're trying to retain existing businesses."

Southgate's anchor store, Wal-Mart, decided to relocate its Carson City store to Douglas County after failing to negotiate an agreement with Raley's supermarket, which would have allowed it to expand.

The company left behind an empty, 119,000-square-foot building, and took away an estimated $1 million in sales tax revenue from Carson City.

Jay Timon, senior developer for AIG, expects Carson Plaza to be 95 percent occupied by the spring of 2004. The cost of the project will exceed $40 million and includes about 325,000 square feet of retail space and will provide 1,947 parking spaces.

The new 10,800-square-foot Pier 1 store is under construction. The lease was signed in late April and Pier 1 officials expect to relocate by early fall.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Pier 1 was founded in 1962 in San Mateo, Calif., and is the largest retailer of imported home furnishings and gifts in North America.

The company established its Carson City store in 1998 and employs between 12 and 15 people.


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