When the developer Ronald Boeddeker took a helicopter flight over the southern Nevada desert between Hoover Dam and Las Vegas in 1987, he did not see a harsh and barren landscape below.
He saw Italy's Lake Como.
Boeddeker, now 69, had just purchased the valley below and the 2,000-acre, or 800-hectare, parcel came with water rights, one of the last such arrangements between an individual and the U.S. government.
"It was a massive canyon, 200 feet deep in parts," recalled Boeddeker, president of the Santa Barbara-based development company Transcontinental Corp. "But like Lake Como, it was long and not that wide. I imagined it filled with water with the mountains cascading down to the shore and homes chiseled into the hills."
Today, the 3,592-acre Lake Las Vegas Resort rises from that desert floor, with its centerpiece a 320-acre lake with 10 miles, or 16 kilometers, of shoreline.
...Though 18 of the resort's 29 neighborhoods are sold out, lavish homes are available in the newer developments. There are condos, town homes and fully landscaped estates, many with views of the lake, the three golf courses and/or the Strip.