Shopping Center Vacancies Filling Up

RENO, Nev. - At the height of the boom here in the Truckee Meadows, just about every housing development came with an accompanying strip mall. When the economy turned, it seemed our strip malls emptied out. But in some areas, the tide may be turning.

In a few days, The Twisted Fork will open its doors in the Damonte Ranch Town Center to the first of hopefully many diners.

"A second location is exciting but terrifying all at the same time," Joe Clements, the general manager of The Twisted Fork said.

The Twisted Fork is a sister restaurant to Woody's Grille and Spirits in Industrial Sparks. But this new restaurant is a little different.

"We're calling it casual upscale," Clements said.

He says the food will be a California cuisine with Latin hints.

The Twisted Fork is not the only new restaurant to open in the shopping center. Back in November, Asian Paradise began serving Chinese cuisine to the residents in the area.

"The majority is Chinese, but we offer some Asian dishes too; Japanese, Korean," Tony Chang, one of the owners of the restaurant said.

Chang says he chose the shopping center for his restaurant because residents in the area have little options when it comes to dining out.

"The residents here can say 'Oh we have a nice Chinese restaurant here,'" he said. "We don't have to go away to the Midtown or north to have good Chinese or Asian food."

When the economy turned this shopping center lost many of its tenants, but now as Reno's housing market begins to mend, businesses are beginning to take risks.

Kevin Sigstad from Remax Premier Properties tells KOLO 8 News Now that the commercial real estate tends to follow about 6 months to a year behind the housing market.

"Business owners are more secure about their investments now," Sigstad said.

But the reason this shopping center is filling up may have more to do with the housing market that economic confidence.

With more people moving into the area, savvy business owners are recognizing a need for services, like restaurants.

Both Chang and Clements say that's the reason their restaurants are located where they are.

Another benefit for business owners to start thinking about opening up shop is the price to rent. Sigstad says commercial rental prices fell between 2008-2010 from average highs of about $1.65 per square foot to about $1.20 per square foot. Now it seems prices are leveling out, and in some cases increasing.

But choose a location wisely. One leasing agent for the Damonte Ranch Town Center, Mark Keyzars from NAI Alliance says due to the premier location and demand for spaces in the the shopping center, they are able to charge an average of $1.50 per square foot.

While both Keyzars and Sigstad are optimistic about the future for commercial real estate, don't expect many new retail building to pop up anytime soon. Keyzars says there are still many empty store fronts left over from the recession that need to be absorbed up.