Lake Las Vegas, 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, has been an ambitious development from its inception. Building a 320-acre lake surrounded by golf courses, hotels, and a boulevard of boutiques in the hardscrabble desert required foresight and resolve. Unfortunately, when the economy froze and real estate sales stopped, debt service on $800 million in infrastructure in the ground proved unmanageable.
In late 2011, when the economy started to show "green shoots" of growth, financier John Paulson, sensed opportunity.
Paulson is a prominent name on Wall Street. His hedge fund, Paulson & Company, has $23 billion under management. He astutely predicted the real estate depression and correctly bet against the subprime mortgage lending market. Now, he has invested in over 30,000 home sites in the United States.
"During our initial site visit to Lake Las Vegas, you could tell the community was an impressive place. You simply don't find an unspoiled lake in the desert every day," said Patrick Parker, executive vice president at Raintree Investment Corporation, exclusive agent for Paulson & Company. "Underneath the unkempt facilities and closed golf course, we felt Lake Las Vegas could again become the jewel of Southern Nevada."
The due diligence to acquire Lake Las Vegas required months of work. "There are a lot of moving parts," cautioned Parker. "There is an interdependent relationship between the city, our company, current homeowners, and the teams managing the Westin, Hilton, and Aston resorts. We all need to work together to make Lake Las Vegas a success for the long term."
With debt shed, and a fresh round of investment by Paulson & Company, Lake Las Vegas again shows a sense of place.
"The turnaround has been striking," explained Parker, "Real estate prices rebounded strongly and the hotels are busy on weekends."
The Nicklaus name has always been part of the legend of Lake Las Vegas.
"After five years of neglect and with the irrigation shut off, Jack's golf course quickly reverted back to desert," said Parker. "A couple of the bunkers had 15-foot-high mesquite trees growing in them and the greens were ruined. We asked Mr. Nicklaus to restore the golf course and make any changes he felt appropriate to modernize its infrastructure."
"Reflection Bay Golf Club is a good golf course that I am proud of," said Jack Nicklaus. "My renovation brings back the recognition it had and deserves once again.
"My philosophy on the design of Reflection Bay hasn't changed since I opened the course in 1998.
"I appreciate the importance of balancing the course for both better players and average golfers. My swing speed is 20 mph slower than 16 years ago when Lake Las Vegas first opened. While technology has helped me preserve distance, playability of my design is more critical than ever in my mind."