Reno Strong Demand for Worker Housing
- from new and existing companies turns former downtown hotel tower into nightly and monthly rentals.
Despite over the pandemic this year, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) has continued to work to attract quality companies to the region and is excited to announce that 30 companies relocated or expanded their workforce in Greater Reno-Sparks in 2020. 

These companies will add a combined 2,295 new jobs, at an average wage of $28, with eleven new corporate headquarters.

This kind of job growth is unique to the Reno-Sparks area during a pandemic year where most communities are experiencing significant employment challenges. What is especially rewarding is to see the continuation of efforts to diversify the economy with a real emphasis on advanced manufacturing and technology, which made up the bulk of these new and expanding companies. 

It's this mix of technology, manufacturing, health & medical, e-commerce, and distribution that are all critical to strengthening our economy and our future.

Strong demand for worker housing from new and existing companies has turned former downtown Harrah's East tower into nightly and monthly rentals called Reno Suites.

The east tower, which is being renamed Reno Suites, has been used to house company workers in the past, said Chris Beavor, CAI Investments CEO.

"Before we closed Harrah's, Panasonic alone had 75 room blocks, and that was before we purchased the property (from Caesars Entertainment)," Beavor said. "There was a very big number of corporate blocks."

Tesla is another potential company that could use short-term housing for employees, according to Beavor. These include new workers who need to be trained at the Gigafactory site east of Reno before moving to the factory being built in Texas.

Beavor expects up to 70% of the rooms at Reno Suites to be taken by corporate users. CAI is already dedicating a large number of floors to corporate clients, including the larger suites on the upper part of the building.

The former Harrah's east tower on 2nd and Lake Street will turn into the Reno Suites for the next 12-18 months to accommodate daily and monthly rentals due to strong demand for worker housing from companies such as Panasonic.

About 100 blocks are already slated to be taken by two unnamed companies as soon as they become available, Beavor said. The rest will be set aside as rentals for visitors and the general public. Reno Suites will take reservations for both nightly and extended stays.

Remodeling of the east tower has been minimal, with CAI changing some beds and also installing art from the older Harrah's tower that is currently being remodeled as part of the company's Reno City Center project. The east tower, which first opened as a Hampton Inn, requires less work because it is a newer building, Beavor said. 

Reno Suites is the latest residential project to ask for top-flight rents. The Reno Experience District or RED project, formerly known as Park Lane, just opened its first apartment building to the public on Friday and is charging upscale rents for its units as well.

Beavor cited high demand for the rising market rates - not just from existing companies but also new businesses and residents who are making the move to Reno. Another CAI project in downtown, Reno's first Kimpton Hotel, is already receiving unsolicited reservations despite not having done any advertising yet.

"Early interest (in the Kimpton) has been high over the last three months so we were pretty shocked," Beavor said. "We've never seen anything like this before even during the 2005 housing boom."

Meanwhile, CAI plans to operate the east tower under a nightly and monthly model for about a year to 18 months while major remodeling work is done on the main Harrah's property. 

Once Reno City Center is ready to accept tenants, any existing residents will be moved over and CAI will go ahead with its original plans for the east tower. Those plans include converting the tower into multifamily units with retail added in as well.

Interest in employee and corporate housing has been especially high from a certain nearby state, according to Beavor.

"As they say, a small drop in California is a tidal wave in Reno," Beavor said.

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