County trades casino for housing |

County trades casino for housing

A master plan and zone change for property located near the Douglas County line was approved 3-2 by county commissioners on Tuesday.

The action eliminated a high-rise casino-hotel, a 2,100-seat theater and 400,000-square-feet of retail shopping space on the property located north of Sunridge.

The former Beverly Hillbillies Casino was approved in 2007 on land near where a shopping mall was proposed similar to that across Highway 395.

However, in the intervening 13 years, casino proponent Max Baer Jr. pointed out that new hotel-casinos like the ones at Stateline are rarely being built in Nevada.

The shopping mall was envisioned as a continuation of the county’s redevelopment effort in the north county, but never made it past the initial dirtwork that left a huge pile at the county’s northern entrance.

Commissioners Barry Penzel, Larry Walsh and Wes Rice voted in favor of the development, while commissioners Dave Nelson and John Engels opposed it.

Engels cited the potential that the Winter Olympics could return to the Reno-Tahoe area as one reason he felt the hotel was still viable.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported in 2018 that the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition wouldn’t bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The approval converts much of the commercial zoning on the property to residential, increasing the number of dwellings from 894 to 1,238.

The proposed changes would also reduce the commercial square footage from 505,000 square feet to 114,200 square feet.

The 203-acre property is owned by four entities including Riverwood Redevelopment, Riverwood Partners, Carson Auto Mall and Big George Ventures.

Some sort of development has been slated for the property since the specific plan was approved in 2000 while much of the land north of Sunridge was still in the Bureau of Land Management’s hands.

At the time, the county was in competition with Carson City to attract retail development in order to generate sales tax. Douglas was also trying to raise money to purchase sensitive agricultural property.

The property was eventually included in redevelopment area No. 1 in order to encourage commercial development.

However, not long after the approval, the property became mired in a tangled web of lawsuits that weren’t settled until at least 2015.

The last modification to the specific plan occurred last year when county commissioners approved Valley Knolls.