By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Northern Nevada developers Roger Norman Sr. and Lance Gilman — who attracted major international companies like Tesla, Switch and Google to their Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park east of Sparks — announced plans for another major industrial park around Fernley more than a year ago.
Tuesday on Nevada Newsmakers, Gilman told host Sam Shad that plans for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center II will include a ring road around Fernley, a growing community of almost 129 square miles, located about 30 miles east of Sparks.
“Right now, there is a real traffic, trucking problem in downtown Fernley,” Gilman said. “You’ve got to run through the local streets, so the ring road would have to go in.”
Norman will pay for the road’s construction and other infrastructure, Gilman said.
“He (Norman) would have to build his own water and sewer company,” Gilman said. “They are not really in a position in Fernley (local government) to do all of that. They’ve got a start obviously but you’re talking about another $100 million investment for a guy to go in and install all of the infrastructure.”
The land in the original TRI, located mostly in adjacent Storey County, sold faster than expected, partially because Norman provided all infrastructure — including roads, sewer and power — before selling the land to major corporations, Gilman said.
“That is the way he sells,” Gilman said. “And once he gets that done, then he can go in and companies are comfortable coming in.”
Building a ring road around a sizeable community is not the only huge obstacle to overcome before TRI II is completed.
The 10 square acres that the developers have already purchased is in a checkerboard layout, mixed with land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. It would literally take an act of Congress to get those federal parcels transferred to private ownership.
Northern Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, may be in a position to help since he was recently appointed as the chairman of the Legislative Subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. That appointment makes Amodei on the the 12 most influential members of the committee that oversees Congressional spending.
“Our good congressman, Mark Amodei is kind of the lead on that as well as (Sen. Catherine Cortez-) Masto and we have not finished our BLM lands bill yet,” Gilman said. “And what is very important at this point, we really need this lands bill to bring enough land in to make it pencil out, so that Roger can do the Roger Norman deal. He wants to re-create what he did with TRI.”
Gilman noted that the economic expansion of areas east of Reno and Sparks is moving at an accelerated rate. Consider:
* Congress recently approved the expansion of the Naval Air Station Fallon by 558,000 acres as part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill also included language to allow Churchill and Lander counties to access federal land for economic growth. That expansion will bring 1,000 new jobs to the Naval Air Station by 2024 for active-duty personnel and civilian support staff, according to the Fallon Post. The expansion is expected to intensify the current housing crisis on the base and in the Fallon area, the Post reported.
* Microsoft recently closed on the purchase of 274 acres near the Silver Springs Airport off of Highway 50. Mircosoft has indicated it may build a large-scale data center there but have not announced plans. Data centers are booming in the Reno/Sparks/Fernley area already as Switch, Apple, eBay, and Google all have a data-center presence there.
* A $25 million federal grant was recently approved to improve Fernley’s logistical capabilities by helping connect Interstate 80 to U.S. Highway 50, expand access of two rail lines and help the area become an important supply chain hub. Dubbed the “Victory Project,” the grant is expected to expand logistical and manufacturing capacity throughout the Northern Nevada region.
“I believe that community, being Fernley, and the Lyon County group (of smaller communities), that’s the next epicenter for the growth in Northern Nevada,” Gilman said. “It just makes total sense. Reno is out of land and really doesn’t have a lot of expansion opportunity.
“Sparks’ (Mayor) Ed Lawson, he’s a great man … and he will expand Sparks to the best of his ability but the development corridor is out I-80,” Gilman said.
Gilman’s prediction of growth east of Reno and Sparks on the I-80 corridor was recently backed up by Reno-based developer Pat Tolles.
Tolles, who has major projects at both ends of Nevada, said on Nevada Newsmakers:
“Land is more and more difficult to come by both in Northern and Southern Nevada,” he said. “The Truckee Meadows, if you will, from the airport to north of Stead is getting to the point where it is almost built out.
“So we have to go east (in Northern Nevada) and you can talk about all of those budding sub-markets, Silver Springs or Fernley, even Hazen,” Tolles continued. “Our industrial eco-system is going to be predominately moving to the east.”