Baer sells Carson City property | RecordCourier.com

Baer sells Carson City property

by Susie Vasquez

Max Baer Jr. has sold his property at 4209 S. Carson St., formerly Wal-Mart, for $8.5 million to Carson Southgate LLC, a new firm in Bellevue, Wash., according to broker Gary Johnson of NAI Alliance in Reno.

“The company purchases buildings like these and puts new tenants in them,” Johnson said.

Baer, who once had plans to build the Beverly Hillbillies Casino & Mansion on the property, paid $4.3 million for it in August 2003. The property includes 12.8 acres and a 119,000-square-foot building.

Money from the sale will be used to purchase about 23 acres in the proposed Riverwood commercial development for his Douglas County casino project, Baer said.

“I’m trading a building with paving, utilities, ingress and egress for a pile of dirt in the hopes this location will be superior because of what’s going on around it,” Baer said.

A Kohl’s department store and Sportsman’s Warehouse are two of the anchors that have made applications to county officials to build in Riverwood.

The project includes a 40,000-square-foot gaming area with 800 slots and 16 tables, a showroom, cinema complex and five-story, 240-room hotel in almost 300,000 square feet, according to project spokesman Don Smit.

Variances will be required for a proposed 200-foot flameless oil derrick and readerboard. Two 12-story, 240-room hotel towers and convention space are scheduled for future phases and will also need approval from the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

Harmon Zuckerman, principal planner for Douglas County, said the applications have been completed and are being processed, but staff is not submitting a recommendation at this time.

The special use permit, major variance for height and zoning map amendment will be considered by the Douglas County planning commission June 12 and the zoning map amendment will be considered by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners July 5, he said.

Resistance from Carson city officials blocked development of the casino in Carson City, which would have been a tremendous benefit for the people there, Baer said.

“The people of Carson City have been very kind and I have nothing but respect for them,” he said. “But it appears Douglas County will be getting the revenue, brand, and any retail I can help to establish in Douglas County. I’m sorry that it’s at the expense of the people of Carson City. They deserve better.”

Joe McCarthy, Carson City’s economic development and redevelopment manager, said Carson Southgate LLC will completely refurbish the building and bring in tenants. If successful, they will boost energy for the rest of the businesses at Southgate Mall.

“Our community is terribly underserved in a lot of retail areas,” McCarthy said. “We’re very strong and significantly above state average with respect to auto sales, but far below the state average for general merchandise sales, relative to where we should be.”

A previous agreement with Raley’s Supermarket and Drug Center prohibited the sale of groceries within a given perimeter, thus preventing Wal-Mart from expanding its inventory.

Carson City leaders made unsuccessful efforts to keep Wal-Mart in Carson City, including attempting to broker a deal with Raley’s and offering several Carson City sites, but the retail giant relocated to Douglas County, taking with it an estimated $1 million annually in sales taxes.

Acting on Baer’s behalf, long-time friend and California developer John King purchased the former Wal-Mart property and signed it over to Baer in August 2003.

Plans included a 30,000-square-foot casino with 800 slot machines,16 gaming tables, a 240-room hotel and restaurants, all encompassing the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme.

Standing in the way of the project were the covenants and restrictions governing Southgate Mall which prohibit development of a theater, bowling alley, nightclub or other place of recreation or amusement.

For months, Baer negotiated with the other two Southgate owners, Glenbrook Co. and J.C. Penney, but no agreement was reached.

In a letter written to Baer in March 2002, Carson City Supervisor Shelley Aldean, president of Glenbrook Company and manager of the shopping center, agreed to amend the provisions that would keep him from converting the existing Wal-Mart into a hotel-casino, but the agreement was never amended.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.