Courtesy of Coyote Springs
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 | 2 a.m.
There are no homes yet at the 43,000-acre Coyote Springs development 50 miles north of Las Vegas, but starting today, the troubled multibillion-dollar project will at least have power.
Local officials will gather there this morning to flip the switch on a new electrical substation. It will mark the first sign of progress in several years for the stalled project, which has been delayed by the recession and legal issues.
The substation will provide electricity to the Coyote Springs Golf Course, which has been powered by diesel generators and is the only existing feature at the development. It also will power future homes — if they ever get built.
Sam Singer, a spokesman for developer Wingfield Nevada Holding Group, said powering up the substation is a sign that the project is “back on track.” Bringing electricity to the development will allow for the completion of water and sewage treatment plants, which are needed to bring homes and residents to the area, he said.
The vision for Coyote Springs was hatched more than a decade ago when the valley’s real estate market was booming. Initially led by powerful lobbyist and developer Harvey Whittemore, the project called for a master-planned community of 159,000 homes, as well as retail, schools, emergency services and more than a dozen golf courses. The development was planned for 67 square miles — nearly twice the size of Summerlin — in a scenic desert area nestled among three mountain ranges on the border of Clark and Lincoln counties one hour north of Las Vegas.
Whittemore helped guide the project through several hurdles, including getting permits from federal agencies that held interests in the land. Then, the housing market crash stalled the project indefinitely.
Whittemore resigned from Wingfield Nevada Holding Group and sold his interest in 2010. In January, the company filed suit against him, alleging he embezzled tens of millions of dollars from the project.
That case will be tried in Clark County District Court in May. Whittemore also faces unrelated federal charges accusing him of campaign law violations and lying to investigators. He has pleaded not guilty.
With Whittemore gone, his partners in the project, brothers Thomas Seeno and Albert Seeno Jr., have taken full ownership of Coyote Springs, which also is embroiled in litigation with Pardee Homes. Wingfield Nevada Holding Group alleges that Pardee Homes reneged on an agreement to complete infrastructure improvements to prepare the site for the construction of homes.
Further development can’t occur until the legal issues are ironed out, but Singer said Wingfield Nevada Holding Group is confident it will reach a resolution with Pardee Homes.
But even if the court cases are resolved, Coyote Springs still faces the challenge of selling the project. Singer said it will still be years before homes are built at Coyote Springs, and the community will take decades to grow to full capacity.
Still, Singer is hopeful that will happen.
Coyote Springs "is very strongly positioned," he said. "The economy is starting to move in the right direction again. In that sense, it’s the perfect time to be at this stage in development to catch the next wave of homebuyers.”