A week after plans for a proposed hotel-casino complex in Minden went public, a proposal for another major gaming development south of Gardnerville has been disclosed.
Butch and David Peri, owners of one of the nation's largest onion enterprises based in Yerington, have accelerated plans to build a 100-room hotel-casino and 300-space RV park on the east side of Highway 395 at Pine Nut Road.
"We want to build a top-notch project, something the good people of Gardnerville and Minden can be proud of," Butch Peri said Tuesday.
The news comes on the heels of an announcement to build a 128-room hotel, casino, RV park, recreation and bowling complex near the junction of highways 395 and 88 in Minden.
Developers of that project are Tom Bruce of Nevada Northwest LLC and Ferenc Szony, president and chief executive officer of Sands Regency in Reno.
Representatives of those developers met with Minden residents Tuesday to discuss their plans.
The Peris say they are in the process of formally applying to Douglas County to build on the property, known as the old Matley Ranch, which they bought about five years ago.
Like the casino proposed in Minden, the Peris say they will seek a master plan amendment to change zoning on the 186-acre parcel from commercial to tourist commercial. This zoning change would allow for a gaming operation and RV park.
Also similar to the Minden project, the Peris are proposing a European theme.
The hotel-casino complex is designed conceptually to look like an ancient Italian village on a lake, with arched aqueduct bridges and water surrounding the facility. The complex would house a 13,000-square-foot casino, restaurants, a sports bar and a stage room for entertainment.
The Peris have hired architect Peter B. Wilday, who designed Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno and Carson Valley Inn in Minden.
"We are looking at this as bookends of what already exists in the Carson Valley," said Cree Crawford, spokesman for the Peris and Wilday. "We look at this project as a gateway to the Carson Valley, spectacular in design that is conducive to the area."
While the Peris do not have a set dollar amount in place, Butch Peri said the project would be a "multi-million dollar" venture, with building to begin immediately based on the proposed zone changes.
"This will be different. It will not be another glass and metal building like those in Reno. This will be something that will be done in good taste, that compliments the good taste of the people in the area," Peri said.
Those plans may change, however, if Nevada Northwest proceeds with its plans, Peri said.
"Our plan is to move forward, but we would have to scale it down some; building the casino and then phase-in the other additions," Peri said. "To make the project carry its weight, we have to be able to build a project that supports itself."
Even if it is smaller, it would retain the Italian theme, Peri said.
"We will have to re-think how big we are going to be, because you can't build a $30 million project when the area would only support a $20 million project," he said.
Earlier this year, the Peris hired a Las Vegas market researcher, the Navegante Group, to explore the concept of a hotel-casino and RV complex and whether it would be economically viable.
Peri said Navegante concluded that to be viable, the project has to attract three major segments, local residents, regional travelers and RV traffic.
Tied into the project would be open space, lakes and streams for fishing and trails for hiking and horseback riding.
The first phase of the project would be:
n 150 full-service RV spaces. The spaces would be built so that each unit offers mountain views. Each space would be 5,000 square feet in size, using cement and cobblestone, Peri said. Each RV space would be equipped with high-speed Internet hookups, with a central area that will feature a pool, spa, showers and laundry.
n 150 overnight RV parking spaces. This complex would sit on 3.5 acres and is intended for the one-night traveler.
n 100 hotel rooms. The concept is to allow the hotel rooms to wrap around a man-made lake, with all the rooms facing the water. The rooms would each be about 504 square feet. There would be 10 premium suites. All rooms would be done in Northern Italian decor.
n Casino complex. The hotel casino complex would be designed to look like an Italian village on a lake that would feature arched aqueduct bridges. The lake water will be pumped to the top of the property near a trout pond, which would circulate down to a series of creeks and lakes.
Three restaurants would be located on the west side. The casino would accommodate 600 slot machines, nine table games, a sports book, keno and a stage for entertainment. The casino area would have two bars.
Four restaurants are proposed for the complex, including an espresso bar, a sports bar, an Italian specialty restaurant, and an 8,000-square-foot buffet room.
n Meeting room. The area would be 3,000 square feet and would accommodate 200 people for banquets or parties. A separate room would allow expansion for concerts, seating 300 people.
n Retail: Five hundred square feet have been dedicated to retail in the hotel-casino entry area.
Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said he's aware of the project, but neither he nor his staff have seen it.
"It has not been submitted yet," Holler said.
Holler said he finds it "interesting" that gaming has taken a new direction in Carson Valley.
"The interesting thing is we have a number of people looking at this market from a gaming and RV component and the interesting part to that is, given what's been happening with gaming in Northern Nevada in general, it has been sluggish," Holler said.
In recent weeks, developments in Minden-Gardnerville include the sale of Sharkey's casino to Hal Holder, owner of the Silver Club, and a $6 million expansion of Carson Valley Inn.
Holder was unavailable for comment.
Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing for Carson Valley Inn, said he's not sure how Douglas County residents would react to two new casinos.
"First of all, we consider it a compliment to the Inn that all the hard work that we've put forward to build the market, is being recognized," Henderson said.
"Secondly, I would say as a business person and resident of the Valley, I think it's time for us to take a serious look at what we want the Carson Valley to be. And if a proliferation of service industries is in store, then we'd better be looking very hard at where we are going to house the people who will be filling the entry-level positions," he added.