No casino for Wal-Mart space

Prospective casino developer and former television star Max Baer Jr. says he considered Carson City's vacant Wal-Mart as a potential casino location, but he has no plans to build in the capital.

Baer, who played Jethro Bodine on the 1960s comedy "The Beverly Hillbillies," said Friday he has scouted sites in Carson City and the Carson Valley for a casino with a Beverly Hillbilly theme, but "nothing has come to fruition that would make sense and that I could get it done without any problems.

"I always have my eye open to see if something will work," he said.

Baer proposed, in 1999, a $130 million hillbilly-themed casino at Park Lane Mall in Reno. The project died, though, because mall owners didn't want to invest in upgrading the mall to fit Baer's project, he said.

He's given up on Reno, he said, but will continue look for other sites, although not likely in Carson City or the Carson Valley because of smaller tourist draws.

Neighbors of the vacant 119,000-square-foot Wal-Mart heard speculation of it being filled with a casino or a store such as Best Buy or the Good Guys, both electronic stores. Best Buy has long been rumored to be considering locating at the vacant Supply One site at 3800 S. Carson St.

Despite the casino rumors, Shelley Aldean, president of Glenbrook Co., which manages property around the former Wal-Mart home, said a casino couldn't be located at the Southgate Shopping Center because development rules at the site limit recreation-type development.

Aldean said there is not as much synergy between a hotel/casino and smaller retailers as exists with a large retailer.

Wal-Mart recently moved from its Carson Street and Clearview Drive location two miles south to Douglas County where the company opened a 224,000-square-foot supercenter -- a traditional discount store plus grocery. Wal-Mart has around 400 vacant stores across the country, but Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Hill said recently the Carson store shouldn't "be vacant long."

Aldean said Wal-Mart had leased the property previously, then purchased it in April. She said Wal-Mart is aggressively marketing the site.

"It's a good commercial location," Aldean said. "(The challenge is) finding the right combination of retailers. There are not a lot of big box retailers who could use a building that size."


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