Minden boom decades in the making

Homes under construction in Minden on Wednesday.

Homes under construction in Minden on Wednesday.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Why doesn’t Minden have a grocery store? More telling, why isn’t there one in the Gardnerville Ranchos?

Attempts have been made to bring a supermarket to both communities, but neither survived a single presidential term, with Gorman’s closing before the turn of the century and Lira’s in 2010.

The former Ranchos supermarket is a bowling alley, the one in Minden, a church.

When Lira’s predecessor, Sierra Nevada Trading Co., opened in 2006, it was the first full-service grocery store in the county seat in 41 years.

But people don’t build grocery stores or supermarkets unless they think there’s going to be sufficient clientele to ensure success.

That big WalMart south of Gardnerville wasn’t built in 2013 because there was a sudden influx of residents in the Gardnerville Ranchos. It was built in anticipation of the 1,020-unit Virginia Ranch project, something that is just now appearing on the horizon some 11 years later.

Meanwhile, Minden has been working through one of its periodic building booms, with work underway on around 160 units north of the intersection of highways 88 and 395, in addition to the Valage assisted living home and neighborhood commercial right at the intersection.

Much of the approvals for developing that spot have been in place for the last 23 years, though the owners gave up on the 65,000 square-foot casino and shopping center originally approved in 2001 and went with a smaller residential-type development.

Last week, all six county commissioner candidates speaking at the Douglas County Republican Women meeting said they wanted to preserve the county’s rural character. We’ve yet to hear a candidate for that office say they were ready to start building more housing.

But the issue is simply that commissioners really don’t have that much control over what’s gone on before, though there are some things that might happen.

Elimination of the backlog of building permits in the growth ordinance is a possibility, though that ordinance has never been challenged in court, and won’t be until someone doesn’t get a permit because they run out.


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