Extensive renovation continues at the former estate of entertainer Wayne Newton, even though numerous questions still surround its ultimate use.
About three dozen construction workers should finish this week a complete overhaul of Casa de Shenandoah’s mansion, from the wine cellar to the living quarters upstairs. Because the mansion could switch from private home to public venue, touches such as stylized iron railings have been added for safety.
At this point, Casa de Shenandoah owner Lacy Harber, a Texas-based businessman who spends about half his time in Las Vegas, estimates that he has invested more than $60 million. This goes back three years, when Harber and Newton were both owners of CSD LLC, the entity that was supposed to convert the 55-acre property into a theme park centered on Newton’s long-time run as a Strip headliner.
In June, CSD emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with Harber as sole owner — the final outcome of the in-court brawl that enmeshed the project for more than a year. Harber then announced that he would go ahead with the theme park concept, even without Newton’s memorabilia, car collection, Arabian horses and other centerpieces of his life and career. The only visible remainder of Newton, who moved out at the conclusion of the bankruptcy, is his one-time personal jet with “WN” etched into thick glass dividers in the cabin.
However, in the face of adamant opposition by neighbors in the affluent neighborhood south of Sunset Road and one mile east of McCarran International Airport— home prices in one nearby development range from $1.2 million to $4 million — Harber changed course.
The plan now calls for converting Casa de Shenandoah into an events center, but many blanks still remain in the business plan.
“Several neighbors voiced the opinion that they were more amenable to a special purpose than everyday tours,” said John D. Munson II, the project manager. “We are looking at a very high-end, special-use fundraising facility. It’s just a beautiful property and we want it to be an asset to the neighborhood.”
However, he added, many of the details depend on what kind of accord can be reached with neighbors and what the Clark County Commission will approve.
Attorney Chris Kaempfer, who has previously represented neighbors opposed to the theme park in front of the commission, reserves judgment at this point on the revised plan until he sees more details. In particular, he wants to see projected traffic counts, hours of operation, types of events planned and lighting.
Neighbors want quiets nights and weekends.
“I don’t see how you could have an events center without activity on nights or weekends,” Kaempfer said.
Harber has talked about making Casa de Shenandoah available to charities, such as an event in late August for clients of Opportunity Village and their families. This was not a fundraiser, but just an evening’s entertainment for about 300 people.
Even when the theme park was still alive, Harber said he wanted to generate enough revenue to cover the costs and donate any surplus cash flow to charities.
But how much more work will be done once the mansion is finished will be determined by the terms of the operating permit, Munson said.
He ticked off a list of the investments to date, including:
■ Hauling away 7,000 cubic yards of horse manure.
■ Digging up and removing 2,000 cubic yards of trash.
■ Planting 1 million square feet of grass. The Casa de Shenandoah covers nearly 39 acres. Aerial photos from four years ago show green confined to about one-fourth of the property, but now covering all of it.
■ Planting 1,500 trees and thousands more shrubs and rebuilding the outer wall.
■ Installing four Big Ass-brand name fans in the horse barn.
■ Renovating the building across the street into what was originally intended to by the visitors center, including a 225-seat theater and paving a 550-space parking lot.
But with the uncertainty surrounding the future, it is impossible to say how the finances will play out.
“We have done a lot of work because everything needs to be beautiful,” Munson said. “The only thing we can do is be optimistic.”
Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at 702-387-5290 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.