The Legends at Sparks Marina is the center of many hopes for Sparks residents and officials with various restaurants and entertainment venues, all of which city leaders anticipate will generate tourism dollars and add value to the city of Sparks.
To help make that goal happen, the project's developer, RED Development, has put Dennis McGovern, general manager of Legends, into place to oversee the broader aspects of the $1.2 million, 148-acre shopping center.
McGovern comes into Sparks with the goal of guaranteeing visitor satisfaction on a broader level.
Prior to being hired with RED, McGovern owned a dive shop in Thailand, where he met his wife, Chaluay. Five months after going to Thailand, on Dec. 26, 2004, a tsunami hit and sent the region’s economy into disarray. Immediately after that, he returned to the United States for work and was hired on as general manager for the Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Mo. In May, he joined the Legends at Sparks Marina team because he felt Sparks would be "a great place to live."
McGovern has had a 20-year career in commercial retail. The Legends at Sparks Marina is the eighth retail center McGovern has been a part of from the ground up and every project, he said, is unique, both to the local population it serves and the drawing in of tourists.
"Although we feel we're building a shopping center the local population will very, very much be able to call their own," McGovern said, "we're also providing amenities that when a visitor comes into the market and has a couple of days to stay, and he understands the product we've got out there, they're going to want to come out here just because of the uniqueness of the product and the uniqueness of its location on the marina."
As the general manager, McGovern will be responsible for overseeing the various crews that will care for the Legends property, including security, housekeeping and landscaping. He will also work with each tenant's management, the leaders of which he said are more like "property managers" than store managers.
"It's interesting: I don't have any opportunities to offer value for the product you shop for," McGovern said. "What my opportunity is when you come visit us that you leave with a smile on, that you had a good time, that you felt good about the atmosphere we've created."
McGovern will work with a security director from the Legends at Village West and a team of about 14 people, all of whom will be hired locally, as well as team members from other crews.
"I can't stress enough how much I believe in supporting the local community," he said. "The contractors we pick will all be from this area."
RED Development estimates that 8 million visitors will come to Sparks' Legends annually, although McGovern said it's probably closer to 6 million, based on numbers provided to RED Development from the Reno Sparks Convention and Tourism Authority.
The goal is to reach everyone who flies in and out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport, McGovern said. In his experience with managing a shopping center in Lakewood, Colo., the big draw was skiers who would commute from Denver, go through the shopping center and make their way up to ski resorts. The skiers typically make their first or last nights their stops at the retail centers, he said, predicting it will be a similar scenario for Sparks.
"It's not on people coming to Reno-Sparks for casinos and conventions, but we also feel strongly there's a real opportunity to capture some of that incremental business from the skiers that are going to be enjoying the Tahoe area," he said.
McGovern stressed the importance of maintaining friendly relationships with Meadowood and the Summit, the general managers of which he said he's on good terms with.
"They're great properties, they're well-maintained and have great tenants," he said. "It's important that we all succeed in this market because no market needs a failure in it and I think we complement each other,” McGovern said. “We're not the same project. ...We're shopping centers and that's the only thing in common between the three of us.
"Meadowood is the traditional shopping center, very nicely done," he said. "The Summit is a great outdoor venue. But we are a lifestyle and entertainment destination that's different from both of them. We're exactly the same, but different."
Scheels All-Sports, the center's anchor store, opened in September and Target opened earlier this month. The Best Buy and five other buildings have been built with another set for construction in November. The retail stores will open by June 2009. Construction on the Legends Bay Casino Resort Spa will begin in August 2009 and most likely will open in 2011, McGovern said.