It's rare for a developer to proffer his cell phone number so members of the public can directly call him, but that's what Jeffrey Lowden of Sky West Investments, developer of the Minden Gateway Center, is doing.
Lowden's cell phone number is (775) 315-4314, and he wants public input.
"I want to hear from the community what tenants will fit their needs," he said. "For example, there's a lack of clothing stores in the Valley and people have to drive to Carson City to buy clothes. Will they support a clothing store in Minden?"
Located at the intersection of Highway 395 and State Route 88, the 190,000-square-foot commercial center was scheduled to open this fall but has been delayed till next summer.
"Market conditions are pushing everything back," Lowden said. "But people will start seeing some of the buildings going vertical this fall."
The center will include a hotel, anchor grocery and drug stores, two sit-down restaurants and retail/office space.
Holiday Inn Express has already signed on. Lowden said he is negotiating with about 30 other potential tenants: Banks, pharmacies, fitness centers, insurance companies, phone providers, shipping services, health stores, coffee sellers, ice cream shops and beauty salons, among others.
"We have about 12 letters of intent," he said. "We are looking for a grocer."
Lowden is also looking for sit-down-restaurants; he's talked to Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday and Sizzler.
"I would like to hear what the community wants," he said.
Since county commissioners approved the project last year, the Minden Gateway Center has run into more than one obstacle.
Minden resident Nancy Kam, who lives in the town homes directly east of the development, filed suit in Ninth District Court against the Douglas County Board of Commissioners for allegedly failing to comply with the master plan when they approved the project.
"I laugh at the idea they want community input," Kam said. "If they listened to the community, they wouldn't have built a three-story hotel behind our houses."
Kam's lawsuit was later dismissed, but she still feels the commercial development violates the master plan by dominating rather than complementing its surroundings.
"Our real estate values depend on views of the mountains, which will be obstructed," she said.
Despite reservations about the hotel and a new road abutting her property, Kam said she would probably shop at the retail stores.
"The hotel question is not the retailers' problem," she said. "I don't want to deny people the right to shop there."
On July 8, a request for a major variance that would have allowed an increase in square footage of three signs at the center was denied by the Douglas County Planning Commission.
Rather than appealing the decision to county commissioners, Lowden said developers will revise the request and resubmit to the planning commission.
The initial variance would have allowed an increase for a highway-oriented, freestanding sign from 85 square feet to 133 square feet and an increase for two separate freestanding signs from 50 and 54 square feet to 82 square feet for each. No height changes were requested.
Lowden also addressed the center's close proximity to Douglas High School. Owners of the Ironwood Center in Minden have complained about the influx of teenagers onto their property at lunch time.
"I'm not too worried about it," Lowden said. "We are going to have some stores kids like, like a game store. Plus, the center will be under video surveillance."
For more information about the Minden Gateway Center, visit www.mindengatewaycenter.com.
n Scott Neuffer can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 217.