Truckee airport accepting land proposals after grocery store interest
Visit truckeetahoeairport.com and look at the ‘Airport Community News’ column or click on the ‘Board info’ tab, selecting the Nov. 5 and Dec. 2 agendas to learn more.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Prompted by a retailer’s request to lease airport land, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District is accepting other proposals for public or private non-aeronautical development.
In late October, JMA Ventures notified the district in a letter that an undisclosed retailer with “multiple locations and brands throughout the region” it represents is interested in a long-term land lease on the east side of Soaring Way to construct a roughly 35,000-square-foot facility.
“Given the sensitive nature of business strategies in the competitive market place, we have been requested to initially disclose the identity of the retail entity only under the terms of an appropriate Confidentiality Agreement with the clear understanding that both the identity of the user together with appropriate financial information will be fully disclosed prior to such time as the Airport Board would publicly consider a lease of land … ,” wrote Art Chapman, founder and chairman of JMA Ventures, in the Oct. 28 letter.
The grocery retailer is looking to develop four acres at the corner of Truckee Tahoe Airport Road and Soaring Way that is designated for non-aeronautical development under the airport’s master plan, Kevin Smith, general manager of the airport district, added.
“The airport is not suggesting a grocery store,” he said. “Someone asked us to consider one. As a public agency, we consider requests from our constituents.”
To ensure the public is aware of the request and it’s an “open, fair and public process,” Smith said the district is accepting letters of interest regarding non-aeronautical land leasing opportunities until 5 p.m Jan. 21, 2016.
As of Wednesday, the district has received no proposals since the call went out Dec. 10, but there has been interest from a unnamed nonprofit beyond the grocery retailer, Smith said.
This is the same procedure the district followed when Clear Capital, a national provider of real estate analytics and valuations with a Truckee location, approached it in 2012 about potentially leasing property.
Clear Capital and the district eventually worked out a lease and construction agreement, with a 12,640-square-foot building being built to house the business and rental car providers, likely beginning in August 2016.
Unlike with Clear Capital, however, the district would not finance construction and retain ownership of a potential building at the corner of Truckee Tahoe Airport Road and Soaring Way, as that is not within the district’s financial interests at this time, Smith said.
The district would only lease the property to a prospective tenant.
“The airport district must retain ownership of airport land,” states the district’s request for proposals notice. “Site leases to prospective tenants will be developed under the general guidelines of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, town of Truckee and/or Nevada County depending on location of property.”
The idea of a grocery retailer leasing airport land was met with resistance by members of the public at TTAD’s Dec. 2 board of directors meeting.
“We have some major concerns with this proposal, specifically that the airport is not looking at the full picture of land use planning and really needs to take into account your neighbors,” said Alexis Ollar, executive director of Mountain Area Preservation. “ … We are somewhat stricken, and we understand you have to take in these proposals, why the airport would entertain a grocery store application knowing that Planned Community 3 (Joerger Ranch) has the zoning (for one) and then the Railyard (project) is moving forward with (its) grocery store.
“The airport needs to focus on good planning and not piecemeal planning, and unfortunately, the JMA proposal is just that.”
Truckee resident Stefanie Olivieri voiced similar planning concerns and urged the board to deny the proposal.
In response to those comments, David Tirman, executive vice president of JMA Ventures, said the following at the meeting: “First of all, we are simply seeking at this point in time an opportunity to explore. We are not coming forth with a proposal, and in order to explore, we need to engage a little bit more.”
He continued to state that some challenges with the PC-3 site include its proportions to house a 35,000-square-foot facility and associated parking and storage requirements, visibility of the storefront and land cost.
“The cost of the land and the dimensions of the site make that site and will make that site extremely challenging for any grocer of this size to locate there because (when) you roll in the cost of land, the cost of development, etc., it becomes virtually unfeasible, at least that is our assessment,” Tirman said.
For any forthcoming proposal to be OK’d, the property would have to be apprised for market value, a lease agreement negotiated, various agency land use compatibility plans met, potential zoning changes made, and approval granted from the Federal Aviation Administration and district board, Smith said.
“The retailer has assigned the highest priority to commencing construction of the contemplated facility at an early date and is committed to supporting the approval of an appropriate lease approval to facilitate this goal,” Chapman wrote in the October letter.
“It’s still in the infant stage,” Smith said, adding that the district is just in an exploratory phase.