Clear Capital further exploring Truckee airport options
The Union news service
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Clear Capital’s inquiry to lease land from the Truckee Tahoe Airport District in an effort to keep its employees and revenue local has taken another step forward.
After four potential sites were analyzed to house a Clear Capital campus, the airport board agreed on June 27 to further study two of them — 10 acres fronted by Soaring Way and Airport Road, and 12 acres at the southwest corner of Soaring Way and Joerger Drive.
“We want to be headquartered in Truckee,” Gabe Nacht, Clear Capital’s chief financial officer, told the airport board last week. “We are continuing to grow in Truckee, but there are limited (site) options in Truckee — that’s the reality we’re facing.”
Clear Capital, a national provider of real estate analytics and valuations, is headquartered at Pioneer Commerce Center, but with about 330 employees working out of four neighboring buildings — a total of 40,000 square feet of space — the company has outgrown the location, Nacht said.
As one of Truckee’s largest employers, Clear Capital is looking for a site that can accommodate an 80,000-square-foot campus and 500-plus parking spaces, taking up approximately 6 acres of land, said David Tirman, executive vice president of JMA Ventures.
JMA’s role in the land leasing arrangement, if approved, would be as developer and landlord, while TTAD would serve as landowner and lessor.
“The idea of tying up all that acreage, that doesn’t leave much room for other options,” said airport board president Mary Hetherington. “If you have 10 acres, then where does a nonprofit or transit center — how do those fit into that space?”
John Jones, vice president of the airport board, pointed out that future development wouldn’t have the same site needs as Clear Capital, meaning there would be other viable airport site options for nonprofits and others.
“I really feel after hearing all of the input and digging into the (airport) master plan for six months, that we have room in our 2,700 acres of property for open space, for private land leasing, for public use, for recreation, for all these things we’ve talked about,” said Kevin Smith, TTAD general manager. “I think it’s all there.”
The favored site to house Clear Capital is the one fronted by Soaring Way and Airport Road due to its easy access and extension of nearby utilities, and its rectangular site geometry and flat, treeless topography, Tirman said.
Based on land-leasing rates at Prescott Airport in Arizona — an airport with similarities to Truckee Tahoe Airport — Clear Capital’s occupation of the preferred site could generate between $45,000 to $150,000 annually for TTAD, Tirman said.
Since Clear Capital would need a long-term lease — 40 to 50 years — total revenue could be between $1.8 million to $7.5 million, Tirman said.
“I don’t believe the important thing here is the additional revenue to the airport,” said Andrew Terry, chair of the Airport Community Advisory Team. “I believe the value is in retaining Clear Capital.”
Clear Capital contributes about $25 million annually to the local economy through payroll and local spending, Nacht said.
“It would be interesting at least to have an understanding of what Clear Capital’s options are outside of the airport,” said TTAD director Tom Van Berkem. “… I wish I knew if we said no to everything, what does that mean for Clear Capital?”
The airport board could give direction on whether the company can lease airport land as early as next month. If that’s the case, construction of a facility could start in June 2014, with Clear Capital occupying the building in November 2015.
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