Reno airport stepping up development |

Reno airport stepping up development

John Seelmeyer
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Reno-Tahoe International Airport executives are preparing to make a major push to attract new development to sites around the airport.

They figure the effort will pay a double benefit for the region’s economy.

First, new companies such as Dassault Aircraft Services Corp., which opened an aircraft service center at the airport about a year ago, generate badly needed jobs to boost the region’s economy.

Secondly, the rents that Reno-Tahoe International generates from development of its land holdings allow the airport to keep a lid on the landing fees that it charges airlines.

Airlines look favorably on cities with low fees when they decide where to expand service, and expanded service to Reno would boost tourism and business activity alike.

“We’re doing land development for the greater goal of economic development,” says Tina Iftiger, economic development director of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority.

With vacancy rates in the region’s industrial, distribution and office properties at record levels, nobody at the airport expects to see an immediate boom in development.

“This is when you make your investments and get ready for when the market turns,” says Iftiger.

Iftiger and other airport executives have been talking with commercial real estate brokers and corporate site-location consultants about the potential for development of properties around the perimeter of Reno-Tahoe International. They’re also talking about the potential for projects on 93 acres that are targeted in the first stage of development at Reno-Stead Airport.

The airport is interested only in projects that involve 25- and 50-year land leases. It’s not selling land, and it’s not getting directly into the development business itself.

And the airport isn’t in a hurry.

“We’re not desperate developers,” says Iftiger. “We’re very picky.”

As an example of their pickiness, airport executives long have pointed to their experience with the largely vacant airport-owned land south of Plumb Lane between Terminal Way and the northbound lanes of Highway 395.

While part of the property has been developed into a newly opened Hyatt Place hotel, the airport has turned away potential development that executives didn’t find appropriate for a gateway to the city.

On airport-owned property that has direct access to taxiways – parcels along Rock Boulevard near Mill Street, for instance – Iftiger says the airport will target aviation-oriented businesses. But the airport also owns property that doesn’t offer runway access, and Iftiger said those sites will be marketed for potential industrial and distribution uses.

“We will be proactively recruiting companies,” she says.