A longtime Reno gaming family has partnered in the development of the $20 million Bodine's casino, under construction in South Carson City.
The Carano family, which owns the Eldorado in Reno and is partners in the Silver Legacy, said this prime corner of gaming property near the entrance to Douglas County and the junction to Lake Tahoe will be a boon to locals and visitors. This is the family's first investment in Carson City gaming. Bodine's casino will employ 100 and open in January.
"It's going to be accessible to locals and the style will be complementary to the Carson Valley," Gary Carano said Monday during a meeting at City Hall. He is general manager of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. "It will have the old Chicago flavor in the restaurant, including a private dining room that looks like an old Chicago L train."
The Caranos are partners with Mike Pegram, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in Silver Bullet of Nevada, which purchased the three acres at 5650 S. Carson St. for $4.8 million in mid-February from Southern California developer Kevin Coleman.
"We're trying to have something comfortable that fits in to the area," Pegram said. "Western is overused in Carson City and we want to have a more upscale look."
The design includes a Chicago-style pub with a pizzeria restaurant.
"We think it's a positive thing to have somebody else - especially with the stature of the Caranos - coming to town and driving even more business to the south end," said Court Cardinal, general manager of Casino Fandango.
Ground work started earlier this month on the site, which had been vacant for 10 months following the demolition of the Bodine's restaurant and mobile homes by Coleman, who was unable to get his Western-themed casino built because he could not find an operator willing to lease the completed building.
Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, who helped bring the partnership to South Carson, said Pegram and the Caranos are committed to Carson City.
"It speaks well for Carson City that they picked us," Teixeira said.
"Bodine's shall rise again from the dust."
So far, the owners are keeping the property's familiar name.
Supervisor Pete Livermore, who sits on the parks and recreation board, said without the partnership of Pegram and the Caranos, the fairground improvements would not have started so soon. Demolition on the arena begins next month. Bodine's is east of the fairgrounds and Fuji Park.
Pegram, 55, quickly found investors. He is friends with the Carano family. This is his first casino project, though he has investments in Washington and Phoenix and owns 25 racing horses.
The new owners have decreased the size of the project to about 26,000 square feet, about half the size of the Fandango, to fit a budget and to make the building more appealing, the Carano family said. The Caranos and Pegram will file for a gaming license for this property in the next week.
Dennis Neilander, Gaming Control Board chairman, said Bodine's received its nonrestricted gaming license in July 2003. The property was grandfathered in after the city passed an ordinance requiring new gaming properties to build a 100-room hotel. Sources say this type of gaming license is worth gold - or about the cost of a new hotel, which could reach $20 million.
Carano said his family had the opportunity to build a new casino in Minden, but that Carson City was a great opportunity in a winning location.
"Our goal is that someone will stop at that intersection, and they'll remember it," Carano said about the future casino.
Recreational Enterprises, of Reno, is operated by Donald, Gary and Glenn Carano, according to state documents. The family also owns Tamarack Junction in Reno and Eldorado Shreveport Resort Casino in Louisiana. The company conducts $81 million in annual sales, according to Hoovers.com.
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Bodine's casino at South Carson Street and Old Clear Creek Road
A 26,000-square-foot casino with subterranean parking garage and surface parking
Commercial Consulting Contractors and architect Jeff Frame, both of Reno, are working on the project.
250 slots, no table games
One restaurant, two bars
Silver Bullet LLC, operated by the Carano family and Mike Pegram, has agreed to contribute $1 million to improvements at the fairgrounds in exchange for overflow parking
Construction is expected to cost $20 million
Site work has begun. Pegram said the subterranean parking garage is next, with completion expected in late spring.
The project is designed to include an 8,000-square-foot expansion, which could include another restaurant or bar.
Even with the expansion, Pegram said the casino has ample parking to meet city requirements even without overflow parking at the fairgrounds.
Mike Pegram's son, Tim, 33, has worked in the Eldorado's management training program for 31Ú2 years and is expected to work in the new casino.
Demolition of the fairgrounds' arena is set for the first part of April. Supervisor Pete Livermore, who sits on the parks & rec board, said the fairground improvements will be completed by September. A new arena will be constructed.
Rick Murdock, who graduated from Carson High, and whose stepfather, Roger Murdock, ran the longtime downtown clothing store, is a stockholder in the Bodine's project. Murdock, who is the vice president of casino marketing for the Eldorado, said he expects to bring professional and amateur fighting, horse shows and concerts to the new arena.
The Bodine's board will contain five members - two from the Carano side and three from the Pegram side.
Bodine's restaurant, which was on the property for 20 years, was purchased by developer Kevin Coleman in late 2005. He demolished the restaurant and mobile homes in June.
- Sources: Mike Pegram, city documents