The Park family has been ranching in the Carson Valley for well over a century. Last week’s split from Edgewood Companies allows the family to focus on building its ranching operations, Jon Park says, as well as provide a much-needed financial boost to the struggling Horizon Casino at South Lake Tahoe.
Under the agreement, the Park family receives ownership of 4,200 acres of prime ranchland in the Carson Valley, as well as the aging Horizon property, which opened in 1965. Edgewood Companies, in turn, receives ownership of Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, the land lease for MontBleu Resort and the Harvey’s Lake Tahoe parking garage.
Edgewood Companies also owns the Edgewood Water Company, which serves the golf course and the four adjacent casino properties: MontBleu, Horizon, Harrah’s and Harvey’s. It also owns Friday Station, an old Pony Express stop across from the golf course. The 200-acre site is the longtime home of sleigh rides and now has snowmobiles rentals and a proposed sledding hill.
The split, both sides say, resulted from different priorities. The Parks move forward with their plans for ranching and the Horizon, while Edgewood Companies focuses on its assets and the development of a $100 million lodge at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Park says members of his family will sell calves to feedlots in the Midwest and West Coast from their commercial beef operations. They also will assume management and operation of the 539-room Horizon Casino when the lease with the building’s current tenant, Columbia Sussex Corporation of Crestview Hills, Kent., expires March 31.
Park acknowledged that the Horizon property is well behind the curve for amenities that casino and lodging guests expect. The plan, he says, is to invest in the property and eventually change its image and perception among visitors to South Lake Tahoe.
“Our plan when we take ownership and when the lease has come to term is to change the operator of casino and improve the facility,” Park says. “We want it to be a place that people want to come to, and for that to take place it will require some capital and some pride in ownership. If we want people to come to the Horizon, we have got to give them a good reason to come.”
Though it’s been a while, the Park family does have roots in gaming. Park Cattle Company built the Park Tahoe casino (now the MontBleu) in 1978 before selling the property to Caesars Entertainment.
Edgewood Companies, meanwhile, moves forward with its plans to develop Edgewood Tahoe Resort, a proposed 154-room hotel with 40 private residences located on the ninth fairway of the golf course. Edgewood Companies plans to announce groundbreaking and construction timelines and a possible completion date for the project approved in 2011 in coming months, Marketing Manager Bryan Davis says.
“We are working this winter in getting that project down the road,” Davis says. “(Not having) the Horizon allows us to focus on the lodge and make sure we execute really well on that.”
The proposed lodge will be branded under the Edgewood Tahoe flag instead of a national flag, Davis notes. The Blach, Seeliger, Lourdeaux and Kelly families, all descendants of D.W. and Margaret Hickey Park, will stay on with Edgewood Companies in continuing ownership roles.
“Nothing really changes too much for us other than fact that will not own and operate the ranch and be involved in future operational decisions with the Horizon,” he says.