‘Castle’ constructed near Zephyr Cove | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Castle’ constructed near Zephyr Cove

Gregory Crofton

“Tranquility,” a $50 million estate built in the woods a half-mile off U.S. Highway 50 between Round Hill and Zephyr Cove, is complete.

The 23,000-square-foot home and its seven accompanying buildings were commissioned by the chief operating officer of Tommy Hilfiger, Joel Jay Horowitz, and his wife, Ann, who are from Englewood, N.J.

“I’d have to classify it as one of America’s castles,” said Norm Denny, a former Douglas County Building official who worked on the project. “It outclasses a lot of commercial projects as far as mechanical systems. The quality of the work is the best I’ve ever seen in my 15-year career as an inspector.”

The estate hugs a 2-and-a-half acre lake fed by McFaul Creek and sits on a 214 acres. The roof of the main house is slate. Multicolored rock covers the sides of the house, with other buildings on the property constructed with stone and red cedar shingles.

They include: a lake pavilion, 1,400 square-foot art studio, a home/office with an underground garage, a caretaker’s house and garage, a conservatory, a four-stall stable/gymnasium and an entry building, which is marked 525 Highway 50.

The home has an elevator, a home theater, a basketball court, an 11-car garage under the home/office, a 1,300-square foot Great Room with two fireplaces, 580-square foot dining room, a 90-foot stone tunnel that leads from the main house to the conservatory and a 225-square foot snow vault. The conservatory is 5,600 square feet of steel and glass and houses the pool.

Compare and contrast

Construction of the estate began in May 1998 and wrapped up three years later. In May of this year, workers began landscaping the property. The Horowitzes would not discuss construction of their home with the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

“I apologize about not being able to discuss the Tranquility project with you, but we must honor our client’s wishes,” said Chris Silsby, employee at Q Construction, a firm in Reno. Silsby said Q has built a number of high-profile projects around Lake Tahoe including the Edgewood Golf Course Clubhouse in 1993 and the Heavenly Ski Resort Gondola Terminal & Day Lodge, completed in December.

Craig Zager, a real estate agent with McCall who specializes in high-end properties, has been to the house.

“I would say it’s in the ballpark of more than $50 million,” he said. “There’s the lake and total seclusion. They also have panoramic Lake Tahoe views.”

The Tranquility estate is not unique in the area, Zager said. Across the street from its entrance is a 36-acre meadow owned by the Bourne family. It’s on the market for $33 million.

Down the road is the Khashoggi Estate, which has a $40 million price tag. It sits on 72 acres just east of Cave Rock and has 1,300 square feet of lakefront property. The main house is 20,000 square feet.

The land

In 1931, it became the Bourne Estate, a family that is heir to Singer sewing machine fortune. In 1985, Wayne Newton, the popular Las Vegas singer, bought the property. He tried to get authorization to build a subdivision on the land. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency sued and won, stopping Newton’s plans.

Then in the 1980s, Newton went bankrupt. Because of delinquent taxes, his property went into a Douglas County trust fund in 1995. Less than a year later, Eagle Land Limited Liability, a company under the management of Glenn Hartman, bought the parcel for $2.5 million.

In 1997, the Horowitzes bought 241 acres of property for $4.5 million. They have sold several parcels since they bought the land, paring their acreage down to 214. In 1999, a 5-acre chunk was sold to George and Eleanor Yonano for $900,000.

The environment

Lundahl & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Reno, did work for the Tranquility project. At the request of the Horowitzes, they would not discuss what they did. In 1998, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approved the construction of the estate, but it has not yet made a final inspection.

“Everything is relative,” Pam Drum, spokeswoman for the agency, said. “Whether it’s 2,000 square feet or 20,000, we look for all the same things. We look for disturbance to the project area to see if it’s been properly restored.”

According to agency documents, the Horowitzes are required to pay $4,800 air quality fees, $30,600 for best management practices and $58,000 in water quality fees.

Drum said Tranquility is considered a single-family home, which is the reason the TRPA did not compile an environmental impact statement on the project.

“There’s no way we could do an individual environmental analysis for each individual home,” she said. “Normally, when you’re looking at 214 acres – you’d be able to subdivide it. You can’t do that at Tahoe. If there would have been a stream environment zone up there, they wouldn’t be building anything.”

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