Builder kills plans for mountain spa casino

Jul 2, 2002 7:42 AM

The sale of Jack Sommer’s Mountain Spa Resort property has killed plans for a new hotel-casino in northern Las Vegas.

Pulte Homes told ­­GamingToday on Monday that its acquisition of the 640-acre tract will include only residential development.

"There was a deal with Ritz Carlton but that came and went,’’ Pulte Vice President Don Boettcher said of Sommer’s plans. "This will now be a residential community.’’

Sommer envisioned Mountain Spa ”” bordered by Grand Teton Road, Rainbow Boulevard and Buffalo Drive ”” as an upscale playground for high-end gamblers when he purchased the land more than a decade ago.

In 1994, the Sommer Family Trust bought the original Aladdin hotel-casino, imploded it and erected a larger Strip resort. But the property continued to be dogged by financial problems, and Mountain Spa never got off the ground.

Sommer initially financed Mountain Spa, but later borrowed additional funds through Lehman Brothers. That agreement gave Sommer $35 million, but if a hotel was not built, he owed a $5 million annual penalty. He reportedly also paid a $29 million loan fee.
Pulte, the nation’s largest homebuilder, picked up Mountain Spa for $70 million this year and will jettison the commercial components planned by Sommer.

"It was always a struggle,’’ Pulte’s area president Steve Petruska said of the commercial mix. "There were going to be a lot of homeowner fights.’’

A 27-hole golf course has opened in the community that will have roughly 2,000 homes. Models are currently under construction and buildout is expected in four to five years.