The Minden Gateway Center has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, affecting a host of local contractors who have liens on the property, and hindering the completion of the site's only vertical project, the Holiday Inn Express, which was scheduled to open this month.
On Wednesday, Minden Town Board Chairman David Sheets prepared a letter to the county asking for assistance in the matter.
"Because the developer has not completed much of the work it presumably contractually undertook to perform for Holiday Inn, there are both life-safety and public convenience and necessity issues that must be resolved before Holiday Inn opens for business," Sheets wrote.
The 13-acre site, which lies next to the intersection of highways 395 and 88, was originally envisioned to house nearly 200,000 square feet of commercial space, including an anchor grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, retail and office complexes, plus the hotel.
But Sheets said important infrastructure has not been completed.
"First and foremost, the center's ingress to and egress from U.S. Highway 395 and Nevada State Route 88 are totally inadequate," he wrote. "The SR 88 access is not yet improved, signed, striped, or lighted; for all intents and purposes, but for an opening in the chain link fence, access to the site from SR 88 is nonexistent."
Sheets said Highway 395 access also lacks proper signage and striping.
Jaswinder Singh Dhami, chief executive officer of Minden Hotel, LLC, said he is awaiting action from the county.
"We can't do anything until we have something in writing," he said on Thursday.
Minden Gateway developer Jeffrey Lowden blamed the bankruptcy on the economy.
"We were forced to make this decision because the banks continue to be unreasonable and are not working with many of their borrowers to find a solution," Lowden wrote in a press release. "We did not create the market sickness. We are a victim of the market like millions of others in this country."
Lowden said he wouldn't have pursued the project if he'd known how bad things were going to get.
"Had we seen trouble on the horizon, we never would have taken on a land development project, especially in a lower density area like Minden," he said.
But hindsight may offer little consolation to those with work and money invested in the project.
"For more than a year, the residents of Minden living immediately adjacent to and southerly of the center have expressed to the town board their concerns about many of these issues, and the developer has always provided its assurances of compliance," Sheets wrote. "However, with the bankruptcy filing, the fulfillment of those assurances by the developer is indefinitely on hold."
But Lowden hopes the Chapter 11 restructuring will enable the completion of the project.
"We took on this project for the long term and are going to stick with," he said. "We plan to complete the project and are continuing to work with our banks, pad buyers and offers on the table. In the coming months, we hope to emerge stronger and get through the most difficult times our country has ever seen."
The first meeting for creditors in the bankruptcy case is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 22 in Reno. Lowden said updates will be on the Minden Gateway Web site, www.mindengatewaycenter.com.