A former weekly routine that has all but disappeared from the American scene is that of the Sunday Drive. Its demise can be attributed to the rise of television and the proliferation of the many outdoor activities that now exist.
Be that as it may, on the second Sunday of July I decided to once again take a car trip. The route I chose was a brief one, from Reno to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. Once you clear the City of Sparks on I-80, you enter the twisty Truckee River Canyon with the fast-moving waters as high as I have ever seen them. On the way, the dun-colored hills on either side of the highway are occasionally blackened by the numerous recent wild fires. After about twenty minutes you reach the USA Parkway entrance to the TRI Center. The first thing to catch your eye on the left side of the road is a monster sign touting the industrial park as the largest in the world. The next installation to your right is a conventional mini strip mall featuring a handy gas station. Almost across the street is a vacant pad where Lance Gilman’s real estate office used to stand. The site was recently purchased by the Marriott Corp and is slated to house a 125-room Courtyard Hotel.
Once Lance abandoned his catbird seat at the TRI Center, he relocated to a South Meadows office at 515 Double Eagle Court.
As this was my third annual trip to inspect the goings-on at the Center, I was anxious to see what had transpired there in the past year. On the two previous excursions, I had the rare opportunity of having Lance drive my vehicle both on-road and off-road. I was sure that on this occasion I would miss Gilman’s loquacious and eloquent descriptions of buildings, entities, number of work force and acreage occupied by many famous companies.
As on the other two trips, the first thing to do was to travel USA Parkway to its terminus. The recent road work that didn’t exist a year ago travelled through hilly country that required a great deal of cut-and-fill. The first six miles of the four-lane well-divided Parkway meander through a convenient valley. When completed, the road will serve as a connector from I-80 to Highway 50. The ribbon-cutting for the opening of the road is scheduled for early September of this year. The Highway 50 entrance to the Parkway will be in the vicinity of Silver Springs about 24 miles east of Dayton. According to Gilman, there are several communities that should experience tremendous housing and commercial growth when the Parkway is finished. They include in addition to Dayton, Fernley (12 miles away) and Sparks (8 miles away). Gilman also predicts that the TRI Center’s burgeoning growth will affect the housing markets in Reno, Carson and even as far away as Fallon and Yerington.
During the past twelve months some fifteen new companies have closed purchases at the Center. The most prominent one was Google, which bought 1210 acres. All told, there are 145 businesses now located at the Center with about ten more in escrow.
On the initial trip to the TRI Center we were able to gain entry to the Tesla site, which featured a long steel skeleton that was to reach the distance of a mile, be a quarter mile wide and seventy feet high. On this year’s trip the Tesla building has been encased as well as numerous others such as Panasonic and Switch. As Gilman is wont to put it, “What goes around comes around” as he refers to the fact that Storey County is now the location of the most dynamic installation in the world. In the past, the Comstock mines of Virginia City claimed that distinction.
According to Project Manager Kris Thompson, Storey County has been averaging about 400 business licenses per year since the Tesla deal was announced. At any given time, there may be around 750 businesses working at the TRI Center on the current 145 business sites.
Two interesting things to see at the Center are the large bands of wild mustangs who roam the previous ranch location. Some counts have put the number at over 800. The other highlight is the formation of a new lake which, when filled, will contain 1800 acre/feet of water.
It is interesting to note that the Tesla acquisition was the result of a spirited competition between Nevada and Texas. Because of the world-wide reputation that Tesla enjoys, many large businesses have been attracted to the TRI Center, according to Thompson. He also said that, “The Center is living proof that if government red tape and bureaucracy is minimized, economic miracles can take place.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the TRI Center is that it is almost completely invisible from I-80 due to the nature of the topography. Most of the installations are in the valley area or on the tops of plateaus with no levelling of the many hills necessary. If you’re familiar with the cavities and bumps on a golf ball, you have a miniature version of how this massive property is laid out. Equaling the size of the City of Reno, Thompson noted that despite the spectacular growth, there is still plenty of land available for purchase. Ideal Sunday Drive.