According to insiders, the pending sale of the much-sentimentalized, locals’ favorite Bonnie Springs Ranch was inevitable.
“I think the family was really just tired of running the place, and apparently they would have shut down the petting zoo, anyway. It wasn’t going to go on forever,” speculated Pauline van Betten, director of Save Red Rock, who, along with the group’s President Heather Fisher, met with the buyers’ representatives this past Monday.
The original list price for the property was $31 million. “It went to escrow quickly, but I think (the sellers) had a lot of offers, and were making sure they approved of the buyer and their plans,” van Betten said.
The buyer is Joel Laub & Associates, who created the unique-to-Las Vegas project, Loftworks, a live-work community with a distinctly European flair.
Van Betten said the plans for the 63-acre ranch include a custom home development, a restaurant, a 25-room motel and an event “barn” that will be rented out for parties and receptions, not the same thing as the outdoor arena currently in place. The existing motel has 50 rooms.
The existing yucca trees and plants that now grace the land as you enter the property are not going to be scrapped for faux grass and queen palms, she said.
“They are taking extreme measures to be as environmentally low footprint as possible. They hired a horticulturist to help them preserve as many trees as possible,” she said, plus any bare areas like the current parking lot will be “re-vegetated.”
The developer assured them that there will be a sufficient landscape design that rooflines will not be visible from the scenic loop drive at the property’s border, and there won’t be the typical block wall ubiquitous to most residential developments in the county. “There will be a lot of trees buffering the view,” she said.
She was also assured that the buyer will honor the terms of the 2003 Red Rock overlay plan enacted by the county and not try to obtain any variances. This plan requires the new development to adhere to low light levels, restricts building height to no more than 35 feet high, color choices to those that “are harmonious with nature,” and a density of 2 acres or more per house. “The Red Rock overlay does have guidelines for signage, but at this time they’re not asking for any signage, and there’s not going to be any block wall around it, it’s all going to be open,” van Betten said.
What about those lovable burros? The overlay mentions animals, and because there will be undisturbed desert between all of the properties, it will allow animals to roam freely, said van Betten.
“Now, a person’s house might have a fence around it because they don’t want their dog to be eaten by a coyote, but the property boundaries won’t have fences,” she explained. The critters also will benefit from the revitalization work planned to enhance the natural springs on the property.
Mainly, the group is pleased that the project is “all under-zoned, meaning it’s not zoned to its maximum density; it’s reduced, because they could actually have one house for 2 acres, per their zoning, but they’re doing less than that. … I’m grateful that they’re not trying to do a zone change and just do a higher-density development. I feel like they’re being very environmentally conscientious about every decision. … There’s actually going to be less impact on the roads, less traffic,” she concluded.
April Hopper, daughter of the ranch’s late founder, Bonnie Levinson, said in an emailed statement that the family is selling now because they’re ready to retire, and that they approve of the buyer’s intentions for the property.
There is certainly no shortage of elite, luxury communities in Las Vegas where lots go for half a million and up. Ascaya and MacDonald Highlands in Henderson, Southern Highlands, The Ridges of Summerlin and, now, its nearest neighbor, The Summit Club Las Vegas, which is a joint venture between the Howard Hughes Corp. and Discovery Land.
According to county records, the Mark Davis Trust bought two lots in December 2017 from Discovery Property Co. for $8.5 million. The lots are on the eighth and ninth holes. With lot sizes ranging from a half to 3½ acres, he has at least 1 acre.
On the other side of the country, The Oaks estate in Cohasset Harbor, Massachusetts, was recently purchased by Gerald and Judith Butler of Las Vegas.
The property is on a 9.41-acre peninsula, and includes a 20,000-square-foot mansion, a pool with pool house, tennis court, skating pond with pond house, private beach and 4,000 square feet of outer buildings.
The property was originally a shipyard in the 19th century and had been owned by just three families before the Butlers bought it. The second owner was Clarence W. Barron, owner of Dow Jones Co., Barron’s Weekly and The Wall Street Journal.
Chris Roy, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Boston, represented the buyers and the seller (his father, Peter Roy). He said The Oaks is a very special property, and one of Massachusetts’ finest waterfront estates.
“Its purchase creates a legacy. I’m excited for the Butlers and hope that they and their family enjoy the property as much my family and I did.”
Property records show the couple have owned a home in Turberry Place since 2005.
Susan Stone is a freelance writer specializing in homes, design and real estate. She can be reached at SMStone @outlook.com.