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A better Bodine’s, a better park

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Developer Kevin Coleman probably will never use Fuji Park or the fairgrounds in South Carson City. But if Coleman can make the area around his planned $10 million Western-themed casino look a little better, he wants to do it.

Coleman, owner of Net Development Co. and K&S Properties, said when visitors drive north into Carson City they see weeds around the recently shuttered Bodine’s restaurant, on the corner of South Carson Street and Old Clear Creek Road. After 20 years in business, the restaurant owners sold to Coleman, who lives in Costa Mesa, Calif., in December.

He wants to see improvements made from South Carson Street to Vista Grande Boulevard, which encompasses both Fuji Park and the fairgrounds. And he’s willing to pay for it.

“My desire is to put in what it takes to get the entire block completed,” he said.

Coleman declined to put a number on his contribution. He doesn’t want people to think it’s about the money. It’s about the finished product. His goals are lofty: bring back the 4-H state functions, including the state fair. He calls the park a “diamond in the rough” and it’s due for polishing.

Roger Moellendorf, Carson City Parks and Recreation director, said Thursday that the developer’s contribution could climb up to $2 million. The agreement has not been finalized.

“I think his facility and an improved fairgrounds are really going to complement each other well,” Moellendorf said. “By making a huge improvement down there, we’ll attract more events, which will be good for his business and good for Carson City.”

The more people attracted to the fairgrounds and the park, the more customers for a nearby casino.

The 36,000-square-foot casino will have an underground garage and surrounding parking on the 3.1-acre parcel. Work on the site will begin by the second quarter of 2006. Hiring should start in the summer.

Coleman has enough parking spaces to meet city code, but he is looking to obtain overflow parking at the Carson City fairgrounds.

“If I’m going to invest the dollars into the casino, I want the adjacent property to be at a standard comparable to my property,” he said. “I want greenery and beauty to be an entry to my casino.”

In exchange for the shared parking, Coleman would donate the labor and equipment necessary to develop the proposed improvements to the fairgrounds and park. The city has about $825,000, but that is not sufficient to complete all improvements.

Moellendorf said Coleman would have to issue a request before he can use any parking spaces, and park users would have priority.

When fully built, Coleman’s casino will be a $30 million investment. He has not released its name.

Coleman said he decided to develop a casino on that corner because the property has a non-restrictive gaming license. A casino property with this type of gaming license does not have to meet a Carson City requirement for gaming properties to have a 100-room hotel.

Even though he’s never gambled a cent in his life, Coleman said gaming is best for that location because of long-term economic return. He anticipates the location will be popular with North Douglas County shoppers.

Despite the challenges, Coleman said it only took him about 30 seconds to decide to buy the property.

“I was driving southbound with my real estate agent (Tom Johnson, of Sperry Van Ness/Gold Dust Commercial) and pointed out the window and said, ‘We just listed that.’ It was Bodine’s. I was shocked because I’d been eating there forever. Before we got to Wal-Mart at the top of the hill I told him to buy it.”

This is Coleman’s first step into the gaming market. To him it was a real estate deal in a prime location near Costco and Wal-Mart. It’s also across the street from where the Carson City freeway will empty out.

But before that phase of the freeway is completed in 2010, Coleman has Fuji Park.

“I will beat the drum until the cows come home for the benefit of that park,” he said.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.