A local group is looking at revitalizing the former D’Andrea golf course with plans that include growing grapes for wine and a possible winery or brewery on the property.
D’Andrea Rising project prospective developers and longtime Reno-Sparks residents Randi Thompson and Steve Trollope say their plans are preliminary but that they are working with D’Andrea owner Will Gustafson on several ideas.
“We’re coming in with fresh ideas, a fresh concept. We live and breathe Reno/Sparks every day and we understand the frustration of the residents,” Thompson said. “But everything is conceptual at this point, we haven’t even done a soil sample yet.’’
Thompson and Trollope said that they want to hold focus groups with the community and garner feedback to be able to come to a consensus beneficial to both the residents and golf course owners.
Among suggestions on their website are rows of grapes, a nine-hole executive golf course and a community center on the site of the old clubhouse that could include a winery or brewery.
“They’re talking about a winery or a brewery; give us a proposal we can vote on,” D’Andrea homeowner Steven Swinburn says.
What was once a thriving golf course is now just a bunch of homes amongst overgrown weeds and a burnt down clubhouse. Many residents and homeowners are frustrated at the lack of response from the city or golf course, but whose responsibility is it to fix?
It’s a complicated question and a problem that isn’t getting solved fast enough for the exasperated homeowners of D’Andrea. However, with rumors flying around about proposed developments, there is increased attention being paid to the shuttered course and its burned-out clubhouse.
Trollope says that the former golf course reverted back to desert because it started losing a significant amount of money when the economy plummeted due to the recession. Pouring all of profits into a maintenance account to maintain the course, Gustafson approached the HOA and proposed to raise the monthly dues $28 in order to keep the course functional. But due to the growing distrust between the HOA and Gustafson, the homeowners overwhelmingly turned it down. Subsequently the golf course closed, the clubhouse burned down, and the golf course reverted back to its natural state.
It is safe to say the Dos Lagos golf course had a rough year prior to their initial downfall. On the contrary, the last few years in the golf course’s downturn, Gustafson was mulling around the idea of developing a winery on the property.
“We met with the Nevada vines and wines people and the UNR viticulture specialists,” he says. “I was very intrigued with the idea of commercial vineyards in Northern Nevada. I was thinking what should we do with all of this land? I couldn’t see a golf course working again.”
Gustafson enlisted the help of Thompson, a local government affairs consultant, in putting together an idea to revitalize the D’Andrea area. Thompson was a lobbyist for a wine coalition that helped pass a bill to allow wineries to be built in Washoe and Clark counties. She worked extensively with viticulturist Dr. Grant Cramer over at University of Nevada, Reno, in creating assessments for the possibility of harvesting grapes at D’Andrea.
The more Gustafson met and talked with Thompson and Trollope, the more they got behind the revitalization project. Knowing that Gustafson was busy with other golf courses and dealing with health issues, they offered to take over the project and buy him out.
“We are looking at redesigning the golf course with decorative, edible grapes. Maybe just a row or two, not a big multi-acre production,” Thompson says. She added that it all depends on finding the right winery to partner with and determining if that works within the community.
“We only met with the HOA board three weeks ago and just launched our website last Monday (July 11),” Trollope said.
They both emphasized that they don’t have an exact proposal yet because they want to do their due diligence in meeting with homeowners throughout the month of August and then host a general meeting with the entire Sparks community in mid-September.
“We’ve floated concepts with the website and we’re not going to shove anything down their throats,” Thompson said. “Regardless if it’s us or someone else buying the property, there has to be something that withstands time and is economically sustainable in the long term,” Trollope added. “We’re putting our reputations on this, so the residents will drive how we pull the project.”
D’Andrea Rising encourages residents to reach out to Trollope and Thompson if they are interested in hosting an informal meeting to learn more about the project: http://www.dandrea-rising.com.