A new chapter for Rancharrah
June 13, 2016
The iconic property of Rancharrah has officially entered its next chapter.
The Reno Land Development Company (RLDC) held a groundbreaking ceremony June 2 to mark the start of its transformation of the property into a 141-acre master-planned development. Reno 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 Rancharrah, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
William Harrah, founder of Harrah's Hotel and Casinos, purchased the property from Norman Biltz in 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. Harrah's son, John Harrah, later acquired the property and built the equestrian center that is there today. When he put the property up for sale in 2014 he wanted to make sure that the developer who purchased the historic site would maintain the history of the estate.
"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.
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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 residences 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 this 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 and construction on the second commercial property will begin shortly after.
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 walking trails that will connect to Bartley Ranch and Huffaker Elementary School.
RLDC will keep the 52,000-square-foot 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 dining area and areas for business and club meetings.
Bowlby was first introduced to the property about five years ago while his daughter Tara, a former Miss Reno Rodeo and Miss Rodeo Nevada, was competing at the equestrian center. Tara mentioned to her dad that the property was for sale and little did Bowlby know that four years later he would own Rancharrah.
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 event.
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. But as Bowlby and RLDC's Chuck Reeves told Schieve about the plans for Rancharrah she said, "it really was absolutely exceptional."
"This property has so much rich history," Schieve said. "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 an information pavilion in tribute to the Harrah family. It will be constructed in the John Harrah photography studio near the entrance of the estate and will contain memorabilia from the Harrah family and 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 July 2016.