My colleague, Deidre Woollard, recently wrote in Luxist about the opening of the Ravella Hotel at Lake Las Vegas. I found the article to be intriguing, as I knew the recent history of Lake Las Vegas, and also interviewed -- three times -- Ron Boeddeker, owner of Transcontinental Corporation, the developer/visionary who conceived this grand idea.
The new Ravella Hotel At Lake Las Vegas is located on the site of the former Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas that bankrupted in May of last year. To many, the Ritz Carlton bankruptcy seemed like the terminal blow to the original vision of Lake Las Vegas, the last Gordian knot in a string of bad news and bankruptcies. But the opening of the Ravella, and especially from Dolce, hotel managers and operators who specialize in meetings and conferences, seems relevant and positive in the forward evolution of Lake Las Vegas.
Mr. Boeddeker's original vision was to re-create a Lake Como-like, Mediterranean enclave 17 miles from the Las Vegas strip. Multi-million dollar residences would be built along the lake, there would be fine hotels, excellent food, substantial golf courses. It was a vision that had legs, and Mr. Boeddeker's unusual expertise -- his University education combined civil engineering and ( of all things) theology -- pulled it off, for awhile. He was one of the few developers who could simultaneously envision a 320 acre lake in the middle of a desert and know how to create it from a practical engineering standpoint. In the grand home of great developer visions, this was one of the most expansive. The dark side of such a vision, and one that Mr. Boeddeker would have surely acknowledged were he still alive, was the importance of a recession-resistant economy needful to the overall health of the concept.
But the economy was not recession-resistant, and even with celebrities buying houses, exceptional hotels and golf courses in active use, Lake Las Vegas reflected the economy's downturn. Transcontinental defaulted on $540 million in loans in fall 2007, and went into foreclosure. The development was acquired by the Atalon Group in January 2008, only for it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six months later. And this was just the beginning: