Washoe Travel Plaza is a “first-of-its-kind” NMTC project located on the Washoe Native American reservation in Nevada. The development produced a diversified and sustainable source of revenue for this Nevada and California tribe. The new plaza is named “Wa She Shu,” which comes from the Washoe language meaning “The People’s Place”.
Featuring a gas station and a convenience store, it sits along Highway 395—a popular commercial route between Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley, where an estimated 10,500 vehicles pass daily. The 6,000 sq. ft. development offers a deli and fast food dining options and serves as a rest stop for truck drivers. Washoe Travel Plaza currently benefits over 1,550 tribal members and generated over $1 million annually in revenue for the tribe.
The Washoe Tribe – a community that operates primarily off grants – explored all possible traditional financing options with numerous banks but faced several challenges. The project, located on Reservation Land, offered no real estate collateral, and financing was turned down by over 10 leverage lenders. Project development required extensive infrastructure improvements, which included an estimated $3.2 million for Highway 395 access. Finally, the Washoe Tribe lacked enough money for a down payment on the real estate. Clearinghouse CDFI successfully combined $10 million of Federal NMTC allocation and $2 million of Nevada State NMTCs for the project.
Stonehenge Community Development, LLC also contributed $8 million in Nevada State NMTCs. This combination of Nevada State and Federal NMTC allocations provided NMTC equity of roughly 50% of the total project costs.
Additionally—when other lenders would not—Clearinghouse CDFI provided a $5.6 million leverage loan to make this project possible. The new Washoe Travel Plaza officially opened in early 2016, is already fully staffed by 26 employees, and generated a significant amount of income for the Tribe. The Washoe Tribe’s debut of the new travel plaza is a part of its ongoing business initiative to revitalize the reservation and its surrounding communities. Construction of additional businesses on tribal land is already underway, including prospective developments for a hotel and RV park. It is expected that the boost in revenue will foster the growth of small businesses in the area as well. Tribal leaders anticipate that the resulting increase in employment opportunities and resources helps Tribal members achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency.