Carson and Douglas officials reactions to land sale guarded
Reactions by officials on both sides of the Carson-Douglas county line were guarded after Wednesday’s auction of 144 acres of prime real estate by the Bureau of Land Management.
Though purchasers Michael Hohl and A.M. “Dink” Cryer, owners of several auto dealers in Carson City, say they have not yet decided what will be built on the site, an auto mall across the county line could take a significant bite out of Carson City’s sales tax base.
Auto sales in Carson City total an estimated $200 million each year, bringing in $4 million in sales tax revenue. The city depends on that income — an estimated 20 percent of total sales tax revenue.
If major auto dealers left the city, the actual loss would be difficult to pin down, said Carson’s Deputy Finance Director Tom Minton. In the past, officials have estimated that figure would be $3.7 million.
“We can’t get specific information by firms so it’s a little hard to tell,” Minton said. “We don’t know what the scope (of a Douglas County auto mall development) would be.”
Carson Supervisor Pete Livermore said he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions. Hohl may have purchased the property to eliminate the possibility of competition coming into the area, Livermore said, or he may have other plans besides an auto mall.
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions that could be misconstrued,” Livermore said. “He may have bought it as a defensive move. I’m hoping that in buying it, he won’t develop and build an auto mall.”
Carson Supervisor Richard Staub said he hopes the purchase is a good investment for the buyers.
“Certainly, it’s my hope the dealers stay in Carson City, but obviously those individuals are very competent business people,” Staub said. “I wish them the best of success in whatever they plan to do with that property.”
In May, supervisors rejected an offer by a California developer to build an auto mall in Carson along Hot Springs Road using $27.5 million in public incentives. Negotiations have continued, but nothing solid surfaced.
Staub said he agrees with Hohl that the auto dealers have spent quite a bit of time working with city officials to find a site for an auto mall project.
“From the standpoint of funding, I don’t think we had the right site,” Staub said.
Carson Mayor Ray Masayko said he didn’t want to comment.
“Out of respect and acknowledgement for their significant investment, I’m not going to make any comment until the potential buyers have made a comment of their own,” he said.
Caught in the middle of the land sale dispute between the two counties, homeowner Debra Mehringer attended Wednesday’s auction as a representative of a small group of people who own land next to the site.
“We’re just glad to see this happen,” she said.
Mehringer and her neighbors are awaiting the finalization of the sale so they can possibly sell their parcels for commercial purposes.
Indian Hills Improvement District manager Jim Bently said he is in a complicated position as a resident of Carson City and manager of the small Douglas County residential district next to the retail development site.
“Carson’s on the wrong side of this argument,” Bently said. “On the other hand, Douglas County moved forward considerably today. Indian Hills will play a large role in that.”
With an eye on incorporating commercial and residential property in Indian Hills as a separate city, Bently said he looks forward to the residential parcels slated to be sold by BLM following the completion of the sale of the commercial piece.