Sparks retail center seen as boon to region

SPARKS " Developers of the $1.2 billion Legends at Sparks Marina said Wednesday that the retail center will draw people to the region, create jobs in a down economy and pump millions into the local economy.

Calling it Northern Nevada's first "destination development," Dennis McGovern, general manager of the Legends at Sparks Marina, said officials expect the 148-acre site on U.S. Interstate 80 to attract 600,000 to 800,000 people to the region annually with

an economic impact of

$415 million a year for the next 20 years.

"We're very excited to be able to put so many people to work in such touch economic times," he said at a news conference with city business leaders and elected officials. McGovern estimated 4,400 jobs will be created by the time the project is completed over the next two years.

Steve Graham, vice president for the center's developer " Kansas City, Mo.-based RED Development LLC " said destination developments are those with brands that are new or unique to a market " "stores where you previously had to go to San Francisco or Sacramento to shop."

Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and Ellen Oppenheim, president of the Reno-Sparks Visitors & Convention Authority, praised RED Development for the project that he said will be an asset in attracting convention business.

"The economy is in trouble. We know that," Martini said. "The commitment they've made is unbelievable."

Officials announced a June 18 ribbon cutting that will kick off six weeks of free entertainment, events and fireworks culminating with a grand opening celebration July 31 through Aug. 9. Nearly 50 stores are scheduled to open this summer.

Officials scheduled a job fair May 7 when more than two dozen future tenants will accept resumes and job applications for an estimated 700 jobs, including those for administrative positions, sales clerks and security guards.

The site is anchored by the Scheels mega sporting goods store, which opened in September. Target and Best Buy also have opened in recent months.

Olympia Gaming of Las Vegas intends to build the Legends Bay Hotel-Casino at the site, but has put those plans on hold while it seeks financing.

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