By Tony Illia | January 28, 2014 | Home & Real Estate
This compound at 6860 West Rome Boulevard comes complete with three barns and an orchard.
Before the neon lights and imported palms arrived, Las Vegas was a ranch town, settled by entrepreneurial farmers who consolidated the plots left by the Mormon pioneers of the 1850s. When Vegas became a stop on a new railroad line in 1905, lots began selling—in a scenario similar to that of the boom years of the early 2000s—to wealthy speculators from Los Angeles.
But Las Vegas’s grand ranches, now mostly in the northwest part of the city, never disappeared. These highly desirable plots of land, many away from the public eye, occasionally come up for sale. And with the city’s resurgence as a rodeo and equestrian hot spot, many of them have received spectacular upgrades—into tony equestrian estates.
You need only look at major events like the National Finals Rodeo, held annually in Vegas, to understand the draw. NFR brings such tremendous revenue to MGM Resorts each December that the Mirage redecorates its race and sports book for the tens of thousands of rodeo visitors. Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point hotel-casino, went a step further, building a permanent 4,600-seat, 1,200-stall equestrian center, with 100,000 more square feet to come in 2014. The following year, Las Vegas will also host the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Cup Finals, an Olympic-qualifying event, which brought more than $20 million in non-gaming revenue to the city the last time it was held here, in 2009.
The 36-acre estate at 6629 South Pecos Road.
“The horse industry contributes approximately $40 billion to the gross domestic product of our country’s economy,” says Robin Compagno, an equestrian-property specialist for Luxury Homes of Las Vegas. “Las Vegas is a popular tax haven for the wealthy, attracting a huge number of horse owners in recent years and fueling sumptuous equestrian estates.”
MGM executive Phil Cooper’s estate, for example, features a single-story, 6,063-square foot brick residence, with five bedrooms, five baths, a wine cellar, a game room, an exercise gym, and a full wet bar, as well as an outdoor pool and spa deck, a putting green, and more. The tree-filled compound has three barns, including a climate-controlled main barn. There are also two large tack rooms, a round pen, and a dressing locker room, plus an orchard, a hay barn, a workshop, and indoor/outdoor wash racks.
Cooper’s property had been part of the historic Gilcrease Ranch, which at one time exceeded 1,500 acres but was slowly sold off, giving new owners water rights for farming the fertile soil that had settled there from mountain runoff. “When I moved in there about 10 years ago,” says Cooper, “there was a house on five acres and it was all pasture, with a horse and a llama that roamed it.” He and his former wife, an expert in the European riding discipline of dressage, remodeled the original house and added a 20,000-square foot riding arena. A horse trainer manages the dressage-rated estate, which boards horses in its 29 stalls. “I’ve been the gentleman proprietor of the ranch,” Cooper says with a laugh (he and fiancée Carrie Carter-Henderson are now building a property in the Ridges), noting that the estate “really needs someone who is a devoted equestrian.” The compound, at 6860 West Rome Boulevard, is listed for $3,875,000.
The main residence of 6629 South Pecos Road.
“Phil Cooper’s estate is like a different part of the world. It’s an incredible retreat,” says Ivan Sher of Shapiro & Sher Group at Prudential, the listing realtor. “There is a great demand for equestrian estates, but only a few exist throughout the Valley. And they seldom come to market.”
Only a dozen and a half or so genuine equestrian estates exist in Southern Nevada, say local real estate experts, and their rare availability makes them highly sought after. That’s why the Tom Ford Ranch will be sold at auction on January 17. The lushly landscaped 11-acre compound, at 3910 East Russell Road in the southwest Valley, consists of a 9,000-square-foot brick house with a grotto-style pool and 12 manicured pastures. Originally constructed by Tom Ford, owner of Ford Contracting (which built Luxor, Caesars Palace, and Venetian), the ranch will be sold by New York City–based Concierge Auctions with Dale Thornburgh of Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty.
“A world-class equestrian estate built to exacting specifications is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an equestrian respite,” says Thornburgh. “To assemble this much property this close to the Las Vegas Strip—it’s something that would not be possible to create again.”
But Thornburgh has an even more over-the-top equestrian estate available near the Strip: Wayne Newton’s famed Casa de Shenandoah. The spectacular 36-acre compound, at 6629 South Pecos Road, consists of a 3,747-square foot main residence and seven additional homes, plus a stable with 53 stalls as well as offices, tack rooms, an equestrian pool, and acres of pastures and corrals. Once slated to become a museum, the estate—complete with a zoo, tennis court, and car museum—is listed for sale at $48 million, down from the original asking price of $70 million. A Vegas bargain, indeed.
photography courtesy of shapiro & sher; JPM studios