Sonoma Highlands

Here is a project you probably never heard of unless you follow the happenings in Spanish Springs.  Sonoma Highlands was to have up to 2510 units in 16 villages, an elementary school, and a village center with parks and retail.  It included the first portion of the Sun Valley Arterial road which will (would) eventually serve as a southern connection from Spanish Springs to Sun Valley.  To get an idea of the scope of the project, you can take a look at the Project Book.  It is a good example of what developer’s have to go through to get a major project approved.

Though not the most costly financially, I believe it is the largest project by unit count to go into foreclosure in our region.  Sun Cal’s Copper Canyon project was only 2000 residential units.  The land for the project was purchased (more likely transferred between related entities) on 28 October 2007 for $9,301,870 with a $12,3000,000 Deed of Trust.  Take a look at the parties lending the money – you will recognize some of the names if you follow Reno real estate and I figure that is why you are here!  The previous sale was for $2,528,050 on 26 March 2003 to La Hacienda Joint Venture formerly La Hacienda Estates LLC, and there is a lot of history if you search the Recorder for those entities.

The Project Book was approved on 3 February 2009, and Sonoma Highlands LLC defaulted on their payment due 28 October 2009.  The NOD was filed on 19 July 2010 and the NOS on 10 December 2010.

So who is Sonoma Highlands LLC?  The corporate directors are DDH Financial aka Kreg D. Rowe, and B & L Investments aka Brett Seabert.  Both are directors of Tanamera Development, and all the entities share Tanamera’s address at 5470 Reno Corporate Drive, as did La Hacienda.  Is it pretty safe to say that Sonoma Highlands is a Tanamera project, especially given their oenocentric project naming fetish?

My guess is that the investors including the Tanamera principals will see about $10M evaporate.  On the bright side, the developer hadn’t started rape and scrape (site prep) yet and the project won’t become the eyesore that many of the failed projects have become.


About Mike McGonagle

An architect, business owner, and compulsive public records hacker, Mike reads the tea leaves of the local real estate market from a unique perspective.. A former Chicagoan, Mike earned his MArch from Harvard University. Mike can be reached at or 775-345-7435. His continued musings can be found on the blog.
This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sonoma Highlands

  1. Avatar Sorenson says:

    May it rest in peace.

  2. Avatar Grand Wazoo says:

    If only someone had turned Fernando Leal loose on that project …

  3. Avatar Walter says:

    Word has it out on the street that “Nando” has in fact got a plan for Sonoma Highlands. But it is very hush hush right now because we need to get a “buzz” going about it. You know, get all the bloggers worked up about it.
    Word has it that’s its going to be a real Gamechanger. Going to completely reverse the fortunes of Spanish Springs. The smart money says there has never been a better time to buy in Spanish Springs, because once word of “Nando’s” planetary Vision for Sonoma Highlands is made public, all the smart money will already be in.

  4. Avatar bob_c says:

    nando merging mustang ranch w/ the fitz?

  5. Avatar MikeZ says:

    especially given their oenocentric project naming fetish?

    Had to look that one up, but I’m still not certain … wine-centric?

  6. Avatar GreenNV says:

    You passed today’s vocabulary test, MikeZ! Tanamera’s other developments are The Vineyards and Cabernet Highlands.

  7. Avatar Sully says:

    The Preserve, Galleria and a couple small professional centers. They build nice stuff. To bad they can’t take over Park Lane Mall as this Municipal Weed Garden concept doesn’t get it with me. 🙂

  8. Avatar Rory says:

    The obsession with Fernando is unbecoming of this site. Grow up children

  9. Avatar CrawfordTX says:

    Speaking of “Nando”……

    I see that there are 11 Montage condos listed on the MLS. All around $125 sq. ft more or less.
    I see that none have a pending offer.
    Apparently $125 sq. ft. is more than the market will bear.

  10. Avatar 200 basis points says:

    Actually there has never been a better time to buy a Montage condo. As soon as Fando announces his Mystical Dream for the Fitz, those Montage condos are going to skyrocket in value.
    Man, it’s going to be like when your grandfather could have bought all of Peavine Mtn. for $15,000 in 1950.

  11. Avatar Rory says:

    Bitter, bitter, little children.

  12. Avatar Gullible says:

    There has never been a better time to buy at the Kings Inn. Fando’s Mystical Dream for the Fitz, which of course nobody is allowed to know anything about, is going to transform the entire downtown core. Belvedere condos are going to soar in value. The pawn shops are going to replaced by Nordstroms.
    Fando will be elected Mayor.

  13. Avatar contrarian says:

    I think that skepticism regarding the relative likelihood of success of Leal in his various downtown development endeavors has been sufficiently expressed on this blog. It is understandable that many would doubt any turnaround in the fortunes of Reno and it’s blighted downtown core. Further, the pessimism that has been expressed here is an indicator of just how pummeled the populace has been by this housing depression. There seems to be very little hope that anything can turn this thing around.

    So, what’s an intelligent person with sufficient means to do? Well, the time to buy is when there is blood in the streets. The time to buy is NOT when every other 7-11 clerk is leveraging up to buy a nice tract home on a 5,000sqft lot for $400k. Judging by the sentiment as represented on this blog, and in various published media surveys, people couldn’t get much more depressed about the housing situation than they are right now.

    Who knew we’d ever see a situation whereby 75% of the home owners in Nevada would be underwater? That would have been heresy in June 2006. People would have told you to get your head examined.

    So, maybe it’s not a bad time to buy a place at the right price.

    Word of caution, however. The same argument might have been made in Detroit in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, or now…. It all really boils down to one question, are you a long term pessimist, or a long term optimist? The answer to that question will tell you if you should buy a place or not.

  14. Avatar Dirtbagger says:

    Time Line


  15. Avatar Dirtbagger says:

    10/2005 Market Peak $223 sq ft
    10/2007 Sonoma Land Purchase $172 sq ft Prices down 23%
    10/2008 Economy Melts Down $131 sq ft Prices down 41%
    12/2008 Submit Development Plan $122 sq ft Prices down 45%
    02/2009 Project Approved $113 sq ft Prices down 49 %
    07/2010 NOD $102 sq ft Prices down 54 $

    One does not have to be a real estate guru to understand that by January 2009, there was nearly zero demand for new developments in Washoe County. Cannot understand why Sonoma continued payments on the land unless the project was mostly funded by OPM.

  16. Avatar Gullible says:

    The “value” of Belvedere condos could increase by 100% and then they would be worth $25,000.
    How’s that for long term optimism?

  17. Avatar Martin says:

    The national story that calls downtown Reno “shabby” and forgettable that was linked here a few days ago has finally appeared on the RGJ site.
    Compared to what the commenters on the RGJ site have to say about downtown, the RRB looks kind and meek.
    Those RGJ comments are going to really upset the Dude and Rory. I’m sure Rory will scold them.

  18. Avatar Grand Wazoo says:

    Interesting thing about the RGJ comments, which are usually all over the place, is that most commenters completely agreed with the story. As a 5+ year Reno resident who lives very close to the downtown core and either drives through it or walks through it every business day, I thought the article was spot on, sadly to say.

    Imagine yourself as a first time visitor to Reno, either for business or pleasure. You arrive after dark and marvel at the downtown casino lights from your shuttle from the airport. You get up the next morning and stroll out the south Virginia exit of the Eldo to get a better look at the famous Reno Arch. What are you going to think when you look down that street? Bad street maybe, walk a block west? Even worse. All this in the nexus of the Reno tourist zone.

    The Dude and his Kool Aid swilling boosters will say “you haven’t seen First Street, you haven’t seen the ball park, you haven’t seen West Street” and that is completely true. Mrs. Wazoo and I spend more than a couple evenings a month taking in the First Street / West Street area. Beaujolais Bistro is one of the best restaurants we have enjoyed in all our travels ever, and the West Street Wine Bar is simply exceptional. We are regulars at both establishments, same goes for Jungle Vino and Silver Peak. BUT – how many people who exit the south Virginia entrance of the Eldo are really going to walk a few blocks around to find First Street and West Street and all those things they have to offer after facing the “shabby” view of the arch and Virginia Street when looking south? Answer = almost no one.

    The bottom line is you can build 20 ballparks and 15 empty luxury condo towers, but until Virginia Street in the downtown casino district doesn’t look like something out of Bosnia or Flint Michigan, all these efforts are doomed. The sooner you Kool Aid swillers (including the mayor and the city council) understand this and commit to doing something about it the sooner downtown’s fortunes will begin to turn around.

  19. Avatar GreenNV says:

    The sale of Sonoma Highlands recorded on 20 January 2011 for $1.9M to Sonoma Group LLC. Address for the buyer is the same as KBCA LLC and Randall Kuchenmeister CPA down in Carson City. This party shows up a lot in developer foreclosures. Anyone have any information?

Leave a Reply