On November 8, during a special meeting, Churchill County Commissioners agreed to enter into a Donation Agreement with Locus Development Group for approximately $2 million in fixtures, equipment, and memorabilia from the RanchHarrah Equestrian Center in Reno.
Rancharrah's expansive and illustrious history dates back to the golden age of Reno. In 1957, casino magnate and owner of the Harrah's Hotel & Casino empire, Bill Harrah, purchased what was then known as the Gentleman's Ranch from the "Duke of Nevada," Norman Blitz. The estate was renamed Rancharrah, and regular guests of the ranch included iconic celebrity performers like John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Waylon Jennings. Upon Harrah's death in 1978, the ranch was divided, with his wife Verna taking over the mansion and 15 acres, while his sons, John and Tony, inherited the remainder.
John Harrah eventually bought out his brother and purchased three additional Gentlemen's Ranch properties, increasing the Rancharrah estate to 141 acres. He then constructed the widely renowned 52,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled equestrian center and indoor arena but later sold the estate to be redeveloped into the Club at Rancharrah.
Since 2016, Rancharrah has undergone extensive changes and is now home to a master-planned development with luxury homes, The Villa at Rancharrah—an upscale boutique shopping, dining, and wellness nexus, with more development planned. In February, RanchHarrah Holdings LLC, the developer for Rancharrah, submitted zoning change applications to develop the parcels that house the Equestrian Center and grounds. Ultimately, the acreage could be put to more financially beneficial use from a development and density standpoint.
The news was not taken well by many Rancharrah neighbors and long-time facility users who hoped to preserve this portion of Reno's equestrian history. The statement released last June was even more devastating - RanchHarrah Holdings planned to demolish the beloved Equestrian Center.
While there is no remedy for Reno residents who can no longer utilize the arena and grounds, part of the Rancharrah legacy will live on in Fallon. Churchill County is about to receive a substantial donation from the Rancharrah Equestrian Center through an agreement with the Locus Group on behalf of RanchHarrah Holdings.
According to meeting documents, the county has been in discussions with RanchHarrah regarding donating part of the ranch's equipment, coral panels, and iconic memorabilia associated with the Equestrian Center and Rancharrah. The donation is considered significant in terms of financial and historical value to the citizens of Northern Nevada and its Western heritage. Churchill County Manager Jim Barbee told the commission, "The donation is north of $2 million, plus a substantial art donation as well."
Chief Civil Deputy District Attorney Joe Sanford told the commission that the idea behind the donation is to reconstruct the panels, fixtures, and equipment here so the Rancharrah brand will continue for them. The terms of the agreement are subject to change, as explained by Sanford, "We still have to work out a few of the finer points, like the appraisal on all the materials, so we can give them a donation receipt." The agreement requires that the donation be recorded within 60 days. Within that time frame, the county is responsible for transporting all materials, equipment, and other donated items from RanchHarrah to Churchill County.
The commission granted Barbee the authority to take the necessary measures to transport the items to Churchill County and hire the appropriate contractors, as needed, with the required equipment should they be best suited for transporting certain items.
The commissioners plan to move equipment soon so that RanchHarrah can move forward with their development plans.