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Landowner stays quiet on plans for Northgate

Rob Sabo

RJB Holdings, the newly deeded owner of Northgate Golf Course, is mum about its plans for the 247.8-acre parcel in northwest Reno but one thing is for sure: neither Washoe County nor the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority has any interest in operating the 18-hole course.

Development of the land into single- or multi-family housing, one option for the property, could prove attractive for RJB Holdings, real estate experts say.

The RSCVA in January decided not to continue operating Northgate, which opened in 1989. The course was projected to lose $530,000 during the 2008-2009 fiscal year the equivalent of losing $27.40 for each round played.

When the RSVCA opted out of running Northgate in January, the course was turned back to Washoe County.

But Washoe County Community Relations Director Kathy Carter says the county is unwilling to run another course since the two it currently manages Washoe Golf Course off Arlington Avenue and Sierra Sage Golf

Course in Stead both lose money. With Washoe County and the RSCVA declining to operate the course, ownership of the land reverts back to developer RJB Holdings. RJB Development Co., which is headquartered in Reno, declined to comment on the future of the property leaving its future up in the air.

But developing the land could prove lucrative once the demand for new homes returns, says Ron Cobb, managing principal with Commercial Partners of Nevada.

“There is not a lot of buildable ground left in the northwest, and I think most of that course is fairly buildable,” Cobb says. “They could potentially put a tentative map on it, process it through the city and then hold it until the market turns back around and sell it as a residential development.”

Assuming that 123 acres of the golf course could be developed, Cobb says the property might be divided into about 500 homes once the market stabilizes.

Mark Krueger, managing director and senior vice president of the land division for Grubb and Ellis/NCG, says the property could see a mixed use of residential and multi-family housing.

“That submarket, with McQueen High School as the catalyst, still has a good following. It has slowed down like everything else, but a lot of that is lack of availability. If it is planned properly it could be a good piece of property. I would think it would primarily be residential use, but there could be other things coming into play up there,” Krueger says.

Also unclear is the fate of 250 acre-feet of water rights purchased by the RSCVA when the course was opened.

Jill Stockton, communications director for RSCVA, says the agency has not yet made any plans for the water rights.

Stockton says the money saved from not opening the course this year will allow the RSCVA to devote more of its assets to promoting Greater Reno-Tahoe.

“We are really sticking to our guns and making some investments in the downturn of the economy to keep our destination in the top of mind and try to drive visitation to the region,” she says.