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Minden casino planned

Sands Regency is planning to build a massive hotel-casino, shopping plaza, RV park and recreation complex near the junction of Highways 395 and 88.

Nevada Northwest, LLC, has submitted plans to Douglas County calling for a three-phase project on 115 acres it owns west of the Winhaven development. When fully staffed, the complex could employ between 400 to 600 people, with construction costs running into the tens of millions, sources say.

“There is a commitment on the part of Sands Regency which gives a letter of intent to Nevada Northwest (to develop) based on everything moving,” said Keith Ruben, a planner for Anderson Engineering of Minden and consultant for Nevada Northwest.



Details on the business relationship between the two companies were not available at press time but they have a firm commitment to move ahead, Douglas County officials and those close to the project confirmed.

“The reality is there for the project,” Ruben said.



Jim Bradshaw, general manager of Nevada Northwest, was not available for comment. Ferenc B. Szony, Sands Regency president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday he wants to talk to Nevada Northwest first before disclosing information about the plan.

While the project has been in the works for about a year, county officials got official word Friday when the plans were submitted to the building and planning departments and to the town of Minden.

“We want to get on this as soon as we can,” said Casey M. Clark of Morris and Brown Architecture of Reno, a lead architect for the project. On Tuesday, the developers will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. at the CVIC Hall in Minden where residents can ask questions and submit comments.

Drawing on the growing popularity of the Carson Valley as a destination, Clark and Ruben said the developers see a market that ties in naturally to the area.

“The Carson Valley provides something that is different from Reno, a good nexus with its golf courses and small businesses,” Ruben said.

Ruben said the project will be “upscale” with a northern European flavor. The idea is to create an open air plaza where pedestrians can peruse the casino, restaurants, recreation and shopping areas.

“What we envision is an authentic village. A plaza where people can congregate and move around freely for recreation and shopping,” Clark said.

Planners said the developers would like to begin building the first two phases – the casino, recreation center, RV park, some retail and half of the 300 hotel rooms – within two years.

The plan goes before the Douglas County Planning Commission on Aug. 14. To operate a casino and the RV park, the developers must seek a master plan amendment to change the zoning from commercial to tourist commercial.

That shouldn’t be a problem, said County Manager Dan Holler.

“We’re looking at property that has already been identified for commercial development in the master plan,” Holler said. “When I look at it, this is a key element.”

The proposal has three elements:

n A 22.6-acre parcel with 252,000 square feet of commercial floor space.

n The casino and hotel complex, covering 42 acres, includes an entertainment and bowling center, a 100-space recreation vehicle park, restaurants, meeting rooms and retail space.

n The 52-acre residential area, to be built out over 20 years, is designed for 116 homes and a 274-unit apartment complex.

While portions of the project site sit within the primary and secondary flood zones, Martin Slough is proposed to be set aside as permanent open space dedicated to Douglas County.

News of the project comes on the heels of last month’s sale of Sharkey’s to Holder Group LLC of Reno and its chief executive Harold Holder, who owns the Silver Club in Sparks, the El Capitan in Hawthorne and the Sundance Casino in Winnemucca. The Gardnerville casino had been owned by Milos “Sharkey” Begovich since 1971.

The $6 million expansion of the Carson Valley Inn is also nearing completion with an enlarged gaming area, a new gift shop and new restrooms. The final phase, to be opened Aug. 9, will include an enclosed pool, spa and fitness center.

Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing for Carson Valley Inn, said he’s interested to see how another hotel-casino operation will fare in an already tight market. While gaming does well in the Carson Valley during summer, it drops off substantially during winter, he said.

“We have a low occupancy during winter, and have tried many, many things over the years (to lure more people),” Henderson said. “It will be very interesting to see how everyone would do with even more rooms to fill.”


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