By Akki Patel
It seems everywhere you look there are headlines about shuddered store fronts, the death of retail and the economic “doom loop” of big cities. But when you look at smaller communities, the opposite seems to be true. While big cities across the country are still navigating the long recovery from the pandemic, smaller communities such as Fernley are continuing to grow.
In short: Small communities are seeing big ideas pay off—and Fernley is a prime example.
With a steady population growth and recorded population of nearly 23,000 in 2020, Fernley is located 35 miles from Reno and is literally and figuratively positioned to be an economic hub of Northern Nevada. For starters, its infrastructure. The city has a nearby cargo airport located in Reno, adjacent rail lines, and Interstate 80 that can transport goods easily and swiftly. In addition, Fernley has strong market fundamentals: a growing population, a business-friendly political climate, and increasing employment opportunities.
This growth cycle in the past decade was sparked in large part by the addition of Tesla, Panasonic and Apple in nearby Reno. The difference, however, is that, unlike Reno, Fernley has ample affordable housing. People are more likely to buy a home there—and with more job opportunities there’s no reason to commute to the bigger city.
For this reason, my company, LRE & Companies chose Fernley as an ideal spot for the Fernley Promenade, a 13-acre mixed-used development project consisting of industrial, retail and a hotel. We’ve developed, opened and operated hundreds of restaurants throughout Northern California and Western Nevada over two decades. Growth is constantly migrating—and from our decades-long experience in real estate development, we identified Fernley as an economic hotspot, positioned for tremendous growth.
The hotel component of Fernley Promenade will be a 98-room extended-stay lodging facility, the four-story Home2 Suites at Fernley Promenade, which will have a swimming pool, fitness center, guest laundry room, breakfast room and sundries shop.
With the number of corporate facilities in the area, an extended-stay hotel made the most sense. When people stay in a hotel, they also want places to eat and shop, so in addition to the Home2 Suites, there will be three quick-service restaurants (QSR), three large junior anchors and 16,000 sq. ft. of shop space as part of the development, which is slated to be completed by year-end 2024. We are now in the process of finalizing the junior anchor tenants. The remaining retail and QSR spaces are available.
By all accounts, we expect Fernley Promenade to drive tourism to the community and become a significant demand generator for future investments. The opportunity for investors, retailers and, most importantly, the community is significant.
As headlines elevate the struggles of big cities, it’s easy to overlook the progress being made in smaller markets. But that would be a mistake. The time to look is now—as small markets continue to do big things.
About Akki Patel
Akki Patel was inspired to launch his own successful career as an entrepreneur at just 20 years old, when he became the owner of his first restaurant and launched LRE & Companies in 1999. Mr. Patel holds an accounting and finance degree from University of San Diego and is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization as well as several other business advisory boards. Mr. Patel writes about business trends and outlooks at AkkiPatel.net. He also serves on Dignity Moves Advisory Board.