For years, Dayton has been the community of choice for families and retirees looking for affordability and proximity to jobs in Carson City.
As prices have climbed there too, along with the limited water rights needed to build, some developers are looking to another community.
Mound House, just east of Carson City in Lyon County, has been known more for its brothels and industrial businesses than for rows of nice, new homes with trim, green lawns.
Two developers want to change that by bringing in infrastructure for more than 500 mobile-home lots and new retail.
"I think there is a need for commercial growth out there and affordable housing for the workers," said Phil Cowee, a partner in Diamondback Properties, which owns the 103 acres for this project. "We could build services for the existing and future residents of Mound House."
At total build out, he estimated this to be a $30 million project.
"As a business owner, it'd be nice to develop a little more commercial here," said Kim Sayre, a nail technician at Handjive.
Cowee; John Cowee, his father; and Bill Miles own the land and the water rights. Cowee said the development is contingent on getting a waste-water line out to Mound House from Dayton. That could cost between $5 million and $7 million. Mound House businesses and residents operate off septic systems.
Lyon County Commissioner Bob Milz, who lives in Dayton, said Mound House probably wouldn't be getting waster-water treatment any time soon if not for this project. He estimates thousands already live in Mound House, and expects it will grow with this project. The Dayton area supports about 15,000 residents.
"This is a step in the right direction," Milz said. "We need something like this."
In about three years, commuters on Highway 50 East between Carson City and Dayton will see this large residential and commercial development under construction north of Highway 50 East, just about two miles past the Carson City border.
"I see a lot of fill-in (coming) between Dayton and Carson City," said veteran Carson City and Dayton home builder Dwight Millard.
Lower-cost manufactured homes will be on 72 acres. There's another 18 acres planned for those who want to rent smaller apartments or fourplexes. These families will be shopping on 13 acres of commercial off Highway 50 and Newman Lane.
"Potentially this is the next area real close to Carson City that has affordability," said Miles, a partner in Diamondback Properties. He is also the owner of Miles Construction, of Mound House.
The goal is to make this stretch of 50 a little more like home, and many will profit off that. Clayton Homes, a manufactured home seller in Mound House, expects this will bring plenty of business its way.
As Carson City's market increased in the boom years from 2002 to 2005, families went looking for homes in Dayton. Now it's all been bought, said Krisann Seiler-Tagay, general manager of Clayton Homes.
"There is still some, but it's about what you consider affordable," she said. "For most people, that's under $200,000. You might find it, but it'll be a really old home."
A single-wide manufactured home can sell for $50,000. A double wide sells for $60,000 to $100,000. Monthly rent on Diamondback land could be as low as $300.
This focus on lower-income housing worries Janine Schach, who owns Bloomers florist on the highway.
"If it's just hard-working people, I don't mind it," she said. "My concern would be if families start moving in, and they're on meth. That concerns me as a business owner."
If there were more homes in Mound House that she would've liked, Sherrie Tracy would've stayed there. She and her husband, Jim Tracy, recently moved to Mark Twain. They own Bytes RX, a computer repair business at 10113 Highway 50 E.
"I'd like to move back to Mound House because it's closer to work," she said. "The commute has too many speeders."
Contrary to what others may think, Tracy doesn't mind living or working next to brothels. She's hoping this project doesn't crowd them out.
"I don't want to lose our cat houses," she said. "A lot of the businesses around here work with them."
Cowee doesn't think the brothels will get pushed out.
"They've been there a long time," he said.
Average home prices in Q1 2006
Lyon County: $250,400. Prices are expected to increase in the second quarter.
Carson City: $310,600. Prices are expected to increase.
- Source: Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors