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Events center explored for empty Kmart building

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

The owners of the vacant Kmart in north Carson City want to open an events center in the 170,000 square foot building that has been empty since 2002.

That’s according to an application submitted this week by Jiangson Duke LLC., the Reno company that bought the building in June 2010 for $1.5 million. The company is applying for a sales tax incentive package to fill the building and perform a major infrastructure improvement to its blighted façade.

Meanwhile, the company – owned by Jack Rao of Sparks and Weiye Lin of Reno – has met with tourism, hotel and business leaders in Carson City.

“An events center is something everybody has been wanting,” said Candy Duncan, the executive director of the Carson City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “Especially those properties on the north end of town have been wanting something like this. Not only will it be good for the north end of town, but it will be good for the entire community.”

Representatives for Jiangson did not return phone calls on Friday.

The company is one of three applying for a 15-year, 50 percent reduction in city sales tax payments as an incentive to fill vacant commercial space in the capital.

The matter will be considered by the Carson City Redevelopment Authority on Thursday. The other companies are the Carrington Group, which owns the Carson Mall, and the Reno-based Riberio Company, which owns the Carson Tahoe Quail Park and Carson Quail Park in south Carson City. The companies would need to fill their vacant spaces with sales tax-generating businesses by July 1, 2012 to receive the reimbursement.

The deadline to apply for the incentive package ends May 20. It’s available to businesses located within redevelopment districts that have at least 15,000 square feet of vacant space – the package excludes any new restaurants or businesses relocating from Lyon or Douglas counties.

The former Kmart location is already percolating with construction activity after Gold’s Gym relocated to the massive shopping center last year from Topsy Lane. The gym is refurbishing a 10,000 square foot space on the north side of the building, which will eventually include basketball courts, a juice bar and 10,000 more square feet for another expansion.

The remainder of the former Kmart would be used for the proposed 100,000 square foot Carson City Events Center plus another 50,000 square feet for potential retail space.

“The Carson City Events Center has the potential to generate significant sales tax from both trade shows and a proposed 25,000 square foot conference center with the requisite breakout rooms and assembly hall,” according to Jiangson’s report to the city. “The Events Center programming will also include popular spectator sports entertainment and regional/national sports tournaments and competitions.”

The company noted other potential uses for the space such as housing a professional theater company, indoor concerts and a performing arts charter school.

In south Carson City, the owners of the Carson Mall have been trying to fill the empty Gottschalks location since the department store went bankrupt and closed in 2009, leaving about 73,000 square feet of vacant space. The mall has an additional 13,584 square feet of vacant mall spaces.

Joanne Holmes, property manager for the Carrington Group, said the mall is in talks with multiple companies that may fill the former Gottschalks location.

“I think it’s a wonderful tool that will help all of the people applying to market their properties,” she said. “The market seems to be slowly turning.”

Ed Yuill, the vice president of operations for the Riberio Companies, said several people own vacant spaces in the company’s two business parks in south Carson City, which will mean multiple applications for sales tax incentives to the city.

He said Carson Tahoe Quail Park has about 20,000 square feet of vacant space and the Carson Quail Park has about 17,000 square feet.

Yuill said the company has been in talks with the city for more than a year to come up with potential tax incentive packages.

“And this was just one of them,” he said. “I’m not sure what tipped the scales, but we were very excited that this opportunity came up.”