The KIT Center is the name selected for the technology conference center and office space at the heart of the Capitol Mall North project in downtown Carson City.
So said the mall’s developers, who credited the historic yet forward-looking name choice to Lynn O’Mara of Scaale Carson City, leader of a tech-oriented service firm that has signed a letter of intent to locate in the mega-mall when it’s constructed near the Carson Nugget casino. Matt MacRitchie and Rob Hooper, two of the three men with Carson City Center Development, LLC, view the name as inspired and relevant.
“I think the idea is a fantastic idea,” said MacRitchie, also with MacCompany’s in Illinois. All involved said The KIT evokes the name of Kit Carson, the frontiersman and scout for whom Carson City is named, the always valuable kit bag with an array of necessities, but especially because it’s an acronym for the actual and underlying terminology from which The KIT, or The KIT Center, springs as a less formal but catchy brand name.
“My suggestion was The Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Center,” said Omara, comparing the acronym brand name to New York City’s MET cultural center. MacRitchie, meanwhile, compared it with the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. In essence, MacRitchie was broadening the scope of The KIT Center to encompass not only the mall’s tech building, but the entire innovation district concept for Carson City’s downtown mall.
The MET is short for the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan; The MaRS Discovery name encompasses the innovation district in that Canadian metropolis and the acronym stands for Medical and Related Sciences.
Hooper expressed excitement over integrating the historic concept of Kit Carson opening up the west with Capitol Mall North opening up Nevada’s capital city to future tech companies and jobs, related businesses and necessary commercial aspects like retail shops and restaurants to service those downtown or working in the mall.
O’Mara, whose business unit of the Scaale Group of companies is already operating here and plans to have 20,000 square feet or more of office space in the tech center, agreed and yet emphasized the future with upbeat verve.
“You want to integrate the historic with the modern,” she said. “This could be something that would be a real catalyst for the area. The innovation district will help keep the economy of Carson City resilient.”
She said its technological orientation coupled with a “smart city” approach by city and state government, with such things as wi-fi and underground fiber optics leveraging both government and private sector services, can help lure interest from California companies or others disenchanted with places like the Bay Area.
“It’s so expensive over there,” she said of Golden State metropolises like Los Angeles and San Francisco-Oakland. “The difference is what makes us attractive.”
She said overseas companies also can be lured to Carson City. She gave as an example Europeans attracted because they are accustomed to smaller city environments, the Sierra Nevada is nearby, and an opportunity to gain or increase a foothold in the United States is available here.
“It’s really about competitive spaces and cool places,” said Omara, “It will be a very competitive space. Hopefully, people are going to be vying to get in on these things.” She said The KIT will be a place where innovation driver’s, such as tech companies, and innovation cultivators, such as Scaale or other tech servicing firms, “would be under the same roof” with a conference center and product display area available to them.
O’Mara said she has known Hooper, who also is executive director of Northern Nevada Development Authority, for some time. She said he asked her to help brainstorm a name for the innovation district’s tech center. After she made her suggestion, he shopped it around. “After conferring with various stakeholders,” she said, “Rob declared that The KIT was the winner.”
O’Mara joined the Scaale Group this year after nearly five years as health information technology coordinator at Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services. She has California experience and knowledge, having been director of corporate communications for a decade with Irvine Sensors Corp. in Costa Mesa, Calif.
An Illinois native, O’Mara has an undergraduate degree from Dominican University and an MBA in marketing from Pepperdine University in California. She cites extensive experience in corporate marketing and branding.
The Scaale Group, which plans through her business unit to deal with companies worldwide in supplying talented personnel for growth, is a venture resource group that implements solutions in sales, as well as monetary capital and human resource. Scaale has 15 offices in eight countries with more than 300 employees.
Capitol Mall North, which already has Carson City Planning Commission approval via a special use permit, is a ten-acre project that will include a 150 room Hyatt Place hotel just north of the tech conference center and office space, another office building to the south, two parking garages, retailing on the street-level in mall buildings, and a public plaza with amenities.
Construction industry estimates maintain the project could cost up to $200 million to build, given that upwards of 500,000 square feet of mall space could cost more than $200 per square foot and the 1,600 parking garage slots would require at least $1,500 each.