Plans detailed for Reno’s Rancharrah project

Chuck Reeves has helped develop master-planned communities in California, Idaho, Georgia, Louisiana and Illinois — and his next venture is in the heart of Reno.

Reeves, partner with Reno Land Development Company, plans to transform acres of green pastureland and white split rail fencing at Rancharrah into Reno’s next master-planned community. Initial plans call for development of up to 715 single-family homes varying from upscale product to smaller units for first-time homebuyers and younger families.

Reeves, a former lawyer, worked for many years creating master-planned and gated communities for Nicklaus Design. Reeves plans to move from his home in northern Idaho to Reno to better manage development of the property — and that’s no small task.

Rancharrah is a massive infill project: 140 acres located near Reno’s retail heart and dozens of busy medical office buildings. The heart of Rancharrah includes a 25,000-square-foot mansion that’s often used for weddings and special events, a 52,000-square-foot climate-controlled equestrian center and acres of serene pastureland.

The property had been listed for more than a year by Bryan Drakulich of DoMore Real Estate of Sparks. Conversations about buying the property first cropped up this summer and are expected to culminate with close of purchase in the first quarter of 2015.

The planned use development is for about 140 acres, which includes two commercially zoned parcels. One is a 12-acre parcel located just north of First Independent Bank that’s owned by McKenzie Properties and the other is an 11-acre parcel at the corners of Neil Road and Kietzke Lane owned by KCI Properties.

Since both of those groups have secured commercial zoning, Reno Land Development will focus entirely on creating a gated community with strict architectural guidelines that complement the character of the ranch and the mansion, Reeves says.

On the northwest portion of the property, the development company plans to build homes on 9,000-square-foot lots to mirror the adjacent community that abuts Rancharrah. Lot sizes for additional single-family development will step down in density toward Kietzke Lane from 6,000 to 4,000 square feet. Reno Land Development Company may build out up to 300 attached or “cluster” home sites to provide a more affordable product for less affluent homebuyers.

“They would be for-sale units, not apartments, that is our current plan,” Reeves says. “We are trying to keep some flexibility in the market, whether we build it out at 715 or less than that, we will see what the market demands. We all have learned hard lessons over the past five or six years in the real estate business. You have to plan as much flexibility as you can so you can react to the market.

“We really want the property to be inclusive,” Reeves adds. “If we come in with a low number of lots the prices go way up. As you increase in density with some smaller homes, you create an environment for younger couples to live. We are trying to create a variety of product so a lot of different people can live there.”

Reno Land Development Company will be the master developer and put in all the backbone infrastructure, landscaping, trail systems and other amenities and sell off finished lots to prospective builders. It also may erect some product, Reeves notes.

Development isn’t expected to start until 2016. RLDC has retained Wood Rogers for preliminary engineering services, and Jacobsen/Daniels Associates of Sacramento has been hired for land-planning services.

The 1930s-era mansion purchased by Bill Harrah in 1957 will continue to operate as an events center for parties and weddings. RLDC may run it or retain an operator — same for the equestrian center, Reeves adds. The existing corrals and riding grounds may be shifted south to create a buffer for the southern 40 percent of the property that contains the mansion and equestrian components, he notes.

Reno Land Development Company — a group of five partners with backgrounds in homebuilding and real estate development — is funding the acquisition of Rancharrah and all the engineering and infrastructure work necessary to bring the planned community online.

Two main hurdles that have to be overcome are receiving approvals for the development plan from the City of Reno and navigating residential market conditions when they come out of the ground. Reeves also is sensitive to homeowner concerns about the proposed transformation of the iconic property.

“It’s going to be a pretty place and will not detract from their values,” he says. “Hopefully it will enhance their values and quite frankly, all of Reno. It’s a beautiful piece of property in a great location with a lot of infrastructure already in place, and that’s a great start.”

Drakulich says Rancharrah drew more than 15 offers from around the country over the course of the past year, though some were for individual parcels rather than the whole package.

In the end, Drakulich says, Rancharrah owner John Harrah went with Reno Land Development Company primarily because of its successful track record of developing high-end master-planned communities.


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