The iconic property of Rancharrah has officially entered its next chapter.
The Reno Land Development Company (RLDC) held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, June 2 to mark the start of its transformation of the property into a 141-acre master-planned development. Mayor Hillary Schieve, members of the city council and dozens of members of the northern Nevada community gathered outside the Rancharrah Mansion for the event.
“It is hard to believe it was almost three years ago when I was asked to meet John Harrah,” Chip Bowlby, managing partner of Reno Land Development Company and owner of Rancharrach, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Harrah wanted to make sure that the person who developed the property would retain the history of the estate.
Bill Harrah, founder of Harrah’s Hotel and Casinos and John’s father, purchased the property from Norman Biltz, in the 1957. Over the years, the property has hosted a wide range of celebrities including Frank and Barbara Sinatra, John Wayne, Jim Nabors, Lisa Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr. and many more.
“John wanted someone to take the ranch, maintain the integrity of the ranch and preserve the legacy of Rancharrah,” Bowlby said. “I would like to thank John for choosing me and my company and we will strive our best to preserve this wonderful legacy.”
Bowlby purchased the property in October 2015.
The development is planned to have 611 homes, which will be comprised of estate homes, cottages, luxury condos and townhouses. They are planning to start construction on homes in the beginning of 2017 and hope to have some of the homes ready by fall 2017. According to a recent press release, they will begin work on the property’s main thoroughfare to connect Talbot Lane to Kietzke Lane starting in August.
The development will also have two commercial properties along Kietzke Lane. These will consist of 12.8 acres for office and retail space and 12.2 acres for commercial and office space. Construction on the north commercial space is scheduled to start this fall.
Thirty percent of the development will be open space and will have many outdoor amenities such as horseback riding, biking and walking trails. There will also be trails to Bartley Ranch and Huffaker Elementary School.
RLDC will keep the equestrian center and they are working on preliminary plans to turn the 30,000-sqaure-foot Rancharrah Mansion into a private social club. It will boast tennis courts, swimming pools, fitness centers, fishing, an event center, a dinning area and areas for business and club meetings.
After the recession Bowlby had decided that he would never develop in Reno again.
“If you have been following our company you know that is a really big lie,”” Bowlby said.
Bowlby also purchased Park Lane Mall earlier this year and is the developer for the Summit Club Apartments in South Reno.
He also said that he would never fall in love with a deal again.
“That truly is a lie because how could you not fall in love with a piece of property like this,” Bowlby said.
At the groundbreaking, Mayor Hillary Schieve praised RLDC on their work to develop the property while preserving its history.
“When you hear about developments coming in you always worry and wonder about what is going to happen with those kinds of projects,” Schieve said. “As I walked this property, it really was absolutely exceptional.”
“This property has so much rich history. William Harrah was such an icon in our community in so many different ways … (The future residents) are going to have so many of those great memories because you are preserving that for them.”
One of the ways that RLDC is preserving the history of Rancharrah is by creating a pavilion in tribute to the Harrah family. It will be constructed in the John Harrah photography studio near the entrance of the estate.
“It is our job to honor and tell the story of where it started, where it has been and now where we will take it,” Bowlby said.
The pavilion will also act as an information center for the residential, commercial and office developments, the club at the mansion and the equestrian center. It is scheduled to open in July.