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Big George writes Big Check to Jacks Valley
Record-Courier, by Sharlene Irete
June 20, 2007
A dent was made in the wish list of educators and administration of Jacks Valley Elementary School when they were the recipients of a $173,850 donation by Raymond Sidney of Big George Ventures.
"We were approached by phone by the Big George people and Ray Sidney toured the school after I made a wish list of what we'd like to have done," said Jacks Valley Principal Pam Gilmartin.
"We walked around the school, walked outside in the Bruce Peterson park and habitat. I got a letter about a month ago that he was making a donation."
The school will receive funds to buy books, magnetic whiteboards and other classroom equipment, laptop computers and software and funds were allowed for the library and school nurse. The school requested art and music supplies and Big George doubled the amount asked.
There was $5,000 donated for the Bruce Peterson Memorial Park and outdoor classrooms in the habitat center, $10,000 donated for an outdoor labyrinth - both projects' upkeep and maintenance to be the responsibility of Jacks Valley Elementary.
The approval of $50,000 for a new track at the school was the big ticket item on the list. The donation goes toward the creation of the track which will also be the school's responsibility to maintain.
"We're looking at a new school track," Gilmartin said about her No. 1 list choice. "Anything would be better than what we have."
Gilmartin said the school has a program to encourage the students to run at recess where they are awarded T-shirts after they accumulate 100 miles.
Several students ran the distance this year but, some had run as much as 200 miles during past school years.
Jacks Valley Elementary is in the neighborhood of Big George's 101-acre Georgetown Village planned development of single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses. The project was accepted by the Douglas County Planning Commission on June 12 and will go to the board of commissioners in another step of the approval process.
Green Development Approved
Record-Courier, by Susie Vasquez
June 15, 2007
A 364-unit planned development on 101 acres in north Douglas County is one step closer to realization following unanimous approval by the Douglas County Planning Commission.
Construction of the proposed Beverly Hillbillies casino due west of their project could negatively impact single-family residential use, but the two factions are attempting to work out their differences, Big George spokesman Robbe Lehmann said Thursday.
"We're happy that our development received Planning Commission approval. We think it would be a great option for those people seeking homes in Douglas County, but we're not too happy about a monstrous casino next door," Lehmann said. "Instead of fighting them we've started working with them, to see how we can both come together to make a great shopping and housing destination in Douglas County."
Casino project spokesman Don Smit said both are great projects and the goals are the same - to create something wonderful for Douglas County.
"We're going to take the blinders off, to see how we can make them better," Smit said.
Designed for both energy efficiency and affordability, the Georgetown Village includes 254 patio homes, 27 duplexes, 56 four-unit townhomes and 18 common-area parcels.
"It's a good project, bringing more open space and affordable housing for new families and older residents," said Planning Commission member Margaret Pross.
The residential construction considers sustainable building design, including solar orientation and sustainable produces with "green" construction techniques. Fifty-five acres of open space, trails and common areas are also included, according to county staff.
"Our vision for this project includes as much open space as possible," said project spokesman Keith Ruben, of R.O. Anderson Engineering.
"We're rookies at the development game, so we're building a test home this summer to test the (energy efficient) technologies," said project spokesman Robbe Lehmann. "We're aiming for a good balance between energy efficiency and affordability."
Regional improvements, including off-site sewer line extensions from Sunridge Drive, widening improvements to Highway 395, an off-site water line extension from the Little Mondeaux Water System to the project site, and dedication to the county of 407.68 acre feet of water rights are included in the development agreement.
This project was brought forward following last week's approval by the Board of County Commissioners of a 2-percent compounded growth cap, a measure that could impede large-scale development.
Ruben said the project will be spread out over 20 years to allow time to accrue the necessary permits.
"We must apply for banking and borrowing if we build more than our allotment," he said. "The 20-year buildout will give us time to acquire the permits and we should have an advantage, because we will be the first project approved."
This planning commission approval is advisory and the project must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
Software engineer pledges $1 million for a Stateline to Carson Valley bus route
Tahoe Daily Tribune, by Dylan Riley
May 11, 2007
STATELINE - On the heels of large financial donations for South Tahoe Middle School (for its track), Kahle Community Center (for its exercise room) and Douglas High School (also for its track), Stateline resident and former Google software engineer Ray Sidney has done it again.
On Thursday Sidney surprised partygoers at a Harveys Resort and Casino event with the announcement that he was pledging $1 million to South Shore's bus transportation agency BluGo. The money would be used to provide transportation for people to and from Carson Valley to Stateline.
"It's a decent commute," Sidney said. "There is a need for public transportation."
Sidney explained the project is a pilot program at the moment.
"We don't want to run empty shuttle buses, so we'll see if it works first," Sidney said. "The ultimate goal is to help locals."
Over three years the money will go to help BluGo get the new route going.
"It will probably be running this summer," Sidney said.
Sidney suggested he wanted to make financing easier for the bus company.
"It's easier to get capital expenditures than operating costs," he said.
"Sidney stepped up to get it going. (He) saw an opportunity to contribute to help the community and the environment," said Harrah's Tahoe spokesman John Packer.
"It will take several hundred thousand (dollars) each year over three years to get it up and running," Packer said. "Eventually ridership will finance it."
Calling Sidney "a generous philanthropist" Packer said local agencies such as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and BluGo have some transportation money but not enough operational money and needed a jump start.
"It's a good kick (to) private sector wheels that will get it on the ground eventually becoming self funding," Packer said.
Sidney's girlfriend, Analisa Wulfsberg, said the idea developed with prominent developer Jeff Dingman's wife and BluGo Board Chair Stacy Dingman, who talked to her husband and Sidney about the idea.
While not quite the donation that Sidney has pledged for BluGo, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District got a generous boost of its own by Harrah's on Thursday night. Nearly $100,000 was given to the fire district by the casino giant for a technology upgrade, including defibrillator.
Battalion Chief Ben Sharit was at the party with the grant writer Chris Lucas.
"This is very state-of-the-art technology where paramedics can use Bluetooth technology to send a detailed report to the hospital about a patient while they are still on scene," Lucas said. "It seemed to make sense to put in the application with Harrah's since the fire district does a lot of business with them. We couldn't have done it without their help."
Valley Boys & Girls Club gets $200,000 Donation
May 11, 2007
The effort to start a Boys & Girls Club in the Carson Valley received a tremendous boost this week when Big George Ventures, an environmentally friendly real estate development company, committed $200,000 to the cause. This is the single largest contribution organizers have received so far.
"We cannot thank Big George Ventures enough for their amazing generosity," said JoJo Townsell, board president for the Carson Valley branch. "So many people have been stepping forward to support a Boys & Girls Club in our community. Big George Ventures made a gift that guarantees a Club will become a reality for kids in our area."
"I'm a firm believer that you need to support the community in which you live, work, and breathe," said Ray Sidney, owner of Big George Ventures. "That includes supporting services for local children who need a place to go when they aren't in school."
"We're currently working with the Douglas County School District to formalize an operating agreement," said Hal Hansen, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, which includes the Carson Valley Branch. "Our goal is to begin offering programs to local kids this summer, and we hope to make a public announcement soon. This contribution from Big George Ventures was desperately needed, but we still need other community members to step forward with their financial support to ensure the club can be sustained long-term."
Big George Strikes again
Record-Courier, by William Ferchland
January 21, 2007
Thanks to a hefty donation from a former Google software engineer, the restoration plan for the track at South Tahoe Middle School has fleet feet for an August completion date.
Ray Sidney, who moved to Stateline after leaving Google when the Internet search engine company went public, is set to donate $250,000 to the multi-million dollar project that would replace the decrepit track once used to train athletes for the 1968 Olympics with a synthetic nine-lane track with an artificial field in the middle.
It is the largest private monetary donation for the project and in line with other gifts from Sidney, who owns the real estate development company Big George Ventures. Past donations included $200,000 for Kahle Community Center's weight room and $1.7 million for a state-of-the art football field and track at Douglas High School in Minden.
"I'm a bit of an easy mark maybe," Sidney joked.
The estimated $2.2 million project has secured enough funding for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education to vote Tuesday whether to put the project out to bid.
"I think it's absolutely exciting for the whole town because if we get that track completed I think it's going to bring in a lot of business for the town," said board president Barbara Bannar, envisioning soccer tournaments.
The project was also deemed as the first stage of a joint-use facility between the school district, City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County. The second is a shared government complex while the third is a community theater.
The first phase of the project will remove the existing track, known for its cracked surface, propensity to collect puddles and uneven lanes. Irrigation will be improved, along with handicap access and landscaping.
Retaining walls and fencing are in the plans. So is infrastructure for future restrooms and concession stands. A public address system is envisioned. The field is expected to have soccer and basic football field lines inlaid into the turf.
Jim Ferguson Excavation, along with John Marchini and Jeff Tillman of South Tahoe Refuse, are expected to donate $300,000 worth of work to remove the track.
Sidney, who graduated from Harvard with an undergraduate in mathematics and earned a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes his money will be used for the field's turf.
Big George Ventures derived its name from Sidney's siblings calling each other George, he said.
The triathlete moved to Tahoe to enjoy its outdoor activities. He's already participated in the grueling Death Ride and has ridden around Lake Tahoe. In a meeting with the Tahoe Daily Tribune for a photograph at the track, he was seen without a car, walking with a paperback book.
Sidney admitted he isn't much of a soccer player but acknowledged Americans need more exercise. After being contacted by district Superintendent Jim Tarwater, he did some research, visited the track and thought the project was worthwhile.
One might wonder what's next for Sidney. He gave a hint, saying it's difficult to ride road bikes during Tahoe winters.
"We're still working on figuring that out," he said with a laugh.
Once distant dream on fast track to reality
Used to help American athletes train in high-elevation for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, the track neighboring South Tahoe Middle School has aged quickly with cracks, indents and wobbly lanes.
A plan to renovate the track has existed for several years. With help from donations, including $250,000 from a former Google software engineer, helped reach the estimated $2.2 million needed for the project.
New sports facility named Big George
Record-Courier, by Sharlene Irete
August 11, 2006
The all-weather sports facility at Douglas High School will be named the Big George Athletic Complex, with the blessing of the Douglas County School Board and Douglas field namesake Keith Roman.
"(Principal) Mr. Swisher took me out today to look at the new track," Roman said. "It's going to be the premiere facility out there. It's a great move to come to a high school with this complex - it helps us get closer to the community. Thank you."
The sports complex will be named in honor of Ray Sidney, owner of Big George Ventures, who donated a total of $1.725 million for the project.
"We'll be the shining star in Nevada," said Superintendent Carol Lark. "I'm looking forward to seeing kids use it."
"We're looking forward to seeing people out there too," said Sidney. "This is the first track I ever bought a chunk of."
Members of the school board voted to name the high school track and field complex Big George Athletic Complex on Tuesday while retaining the name of Douglas' Keith Duke Roman Field.
School board members also voted to accept an additional donation from Robbe Lehman, project manager for Big George Ventures, for the amount of $125,000 to complete the track with an upgraded surface.
Lehman recommended donating more money to complete the track with a colored surface that wouldn't be hot.
"I wanted to know, 'What would it take not to be hot?'" Lehman said. "The base layer is like a sponge and the top quarter will be a color: brick track red."
Completion of the track is estimated to be in time for Douglas' homecoming on Oct. 6.
Big George has big plans for new 300-home project
Record-Courier, by Susie Vasquez
March 31, 2006
Big George Ventures LLC is designing a residential development on about 100 acres in north Douglas County with an eco-friendly twist. In addition to energy-saving features, the homes will be individually tailored to each site, considering everything from the prevailing winds to the amount of sun.
Architect Dennis Freitas of Design Management Services lauded the company for its efforts.
"For me, this is an incredible project," he said. "People should be more aware of sustainable architecture. It isn't more expensive in the long run. Costs for sustainable buildings are only about 2-3 percent higher and the payback will come in the first few years, not 10."
Big George is taking a proactive role that is not limited to just green techniques, Freitas said.
"Most builders look at envirnomental considerations after the design is complete," he said. "He is the first developer who has come to us interested in looking at a more holistic approach."
Freitas has researched building systems and studied sustainable architecture for years. It costs more to work through a project like this but ultimately, he hopes that the consciousness of people here will be raised, he said.
"These principles can work in the whole valley," Freitas said.
Working on a project like this requires detailed research, taking into consideration every aspect of the development, but it's time Freitas is more than glad to put in, he said.
"When we get involved in projects like this, it isn't for financial reasons," he said.
For this development, Big George is considering integrating other improvements. The homes will be placed on the site based on environmental factors, like prevailing winds. The depth of overhangs will be engineered with respect to the sun, to maximize energy efficiency. Site disturbance will also be a factor, Freitas said.
Technologies available now can mean "zero-energy," homes that turn the power meters backwards, but those systems can also be very expensive. To keep the homes affordable, structure and product costs will be considered, he said.
"Tremendous work is being done using a holistic approach with siding, insulation and chip board," he said. "It's very interesting."
Big George is also considering automation and universal design, a concept that allows retrofitting as families grow and lifestyles change, Freitas said.
Plans for the 100-acre development, which will be located just south of the Carson City/Douglas County border, are still on the drawing board. They include open space, walking and biking trails and a bridge across one steep ravine on the property. No timeline has been set for the project, Freitas said.
"We have the normal site constraints and issues concerning utility infrastructure," he said. "We have plenty of work to do on the regulatory side before we have any definitive timelines."
Big George Ventures LLC purchased about Bureau of Land Management property in north Douglas County east of Highway 395 near the Carson City/Douglas County line last October.
The company was formed by Raymond Sidney a few months ago. Since that time, he has donated $1.6 million to Douglas County High School for a new all-weather track and football field.
Originally from Connecticut, Sidney graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He continued his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his doctorate in mathematics in 1995.
He took a position with Google that year. One of the early employees, he was able to retire when the company went public in 2004.
Architect Dennis Freitas said a number of resources are being tapped for this development, including the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, a joint effort between Congress and the building industry.
The philosophy includes strategies to reduce time spent in traffic, increase the supply of affordable housing and rein in urban sprawl. The organization supports regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing.
California's energy efficiency standards and Energy Star, a government-backed program that promotes energy efficiency, are two other resources being tapped for this development, Freitas said.
California energy efficiency standards have saved more than $56 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978 and are expected to save an additional $23 billion by 2013, according to that state's Web site.
Energy Star products spared the environment greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from 23 million cars in greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, according to their Web site.
Another source is EarthCraft House. A partnership between government and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders of Atlanta, Ga., the principles serve as a blueprints to reduce utility bills and protect the environment.
Big check passes for big track
Record-Courier, by Joey Crandall
March 29, 2006
It's a day that Douglas cross country coach Keith Cole always knew would come.
"I always knew we'd get here," Cole said. "It's just a little hard to believe it's happening now."
Cole watched as tractors tore up curbing and work crews methodically cut down the goal posts at Keith Duke Roman Field Monday afternoon.
Closing out one of the most eventful days in Douglas High School sports history, the Tiger athletic program broke ground on the more than $2 million renovation of the track and football field in front of a crowd of nearly 100 student athletes and faculty.
Douglas principal Marty Swisher accepted a $1.6 million check from Ray Sidney, owner of Big George Ventures, in a ceremony at the high school's media center and presented an artist's rendering of the project to culminate a whirlwind of activity for the day.
Permits for the all-weather track project and installation of field turf at the high school cleared early Monday morning and crews began work immediately.
Cole thanked Sidney profusely at the beginning of the festivities.
"Henry Adams once said that a teacher affects eternity," Cole said. "You never know where you're influence will stop.
"Mr. Sidney, I want you to know that with your donation, you will affect eternity as well.
"Look out at these faces. Every single time a baton is passed, a touchdown is scored, a field goal is made - your donation will make memories for these kids.
"They'll come back 10, 20, 30 years later and they'll be able to say that it was here on this field, on this track, that I became who I am today."
Sidney, 36, stood near midfield after the festivities concluded with his hands at his hips, glancing around at the complex.
"It was nice to see everyone so excited, so happy about this," Sidney said. "We just wanted to do something that would help out the community.
"I'm going to have to come down to see some Tiger games next year. I can't wait to see the finished product."
Sindey moved to Stateline after retiring as a software engineer for Google. Big George Ventures purchased 100 acres of land in the north Valley area at a Bureau of Land Management auction last October. The company plans on building 300-350 eco-friendly homes there.
Carson-based Horizon Construction was contracted to do all the excavation, drainage and prep work for the two new surfaces. The football surface will be provided by Sportexe and will include the 2-1/-inch blades, allowing for more comfort and less injury to the players. The field will have orange end zones with the words "Douglas" and "Tigers" and a tiger head will be painted at midfield. Lines for soccer will also be painted in.
About the only thing remaining from the old field will be the vaunted Rock of India, which has been sitting at the south end of the complex for the better part of the last 15 years. The Douglas football team gathers near the rock at the close of every game.
Atlas Tracks will install the all-weather track. It will have two acceleration lanes for running sprints on both sides of the track.
To complement the new track, $120,000 worth of track equipment will be purchased for the team. The equipment package will include high jump and pole vault pits, 16 starting blocks, 90 hurdles, uniforms for 120 athletes and a $25,000 timing system with two cameras that are wirelessly connected to the starting gun and digital clocks.
The project is slated for completion by August.
Big George ups donation to $1.6 million
Record-Courier, by Sharlene Irete
March 10, 2006
The principals at Big George Ventures changed their minds and decided not to give Douglas County $1 million to complete the track at Douglas High School. They want to donate $1.6 million instead.
“Originally, the whole plan was to put in artificial turf,” said Big George project manager Robbe Lehmann. “Big George prides itself in being an environmentally-friendly company and we want to further the goal. We just wanted to help and artificial turf is better than lawn. In keeping with what we want to do, $1 million wasn’t enough to finish the project.”
Lehmann said it will take $1.6 million to do the job the way they want. “We want to step up and finish it off,” he said.
The Douglas County School Board accepted the $1 million donation from the Minden-based Big George Ventures Feb. 2 for completion of an all-weather track and installation of a synthetic turf football field. In taking the donation, the board also agreed to name the track and field complex after Big George Ventures. The company now wants to remove the obligation of having its name for signage.
Big donation on track
Record-Courier, by Joey Crandall
February 5, 2006
Depending on how the bidding process goes over the next two weeks, Douglas High's fall sports teams may be playing on an entirely new surface next year.
Douglas may install Field Turf, a type of artificial grass used at Nevada's Mackay Stadium and Peccole Park and WNCC's John L. Harvey Field, on Keith "Duke" Roman Field this summer, if the cost for the long-anticipated all-weather track comes in around $420,000.
The Douglas County School District board of trustees unanimously accepted a $1 million donation from Minden-based Big George Ventures Thursday afternoon in a short meeting attended mostly by Douglas High coaches.
"Whatever happens, I think we'll have one of the nicest facilities in the state, possibly on the West Coast," Douglas athletic director Jeff Evans said. "We're extremely grateful to Big George Ventures for this very generous donation.
"If we seem a little off-center, it's simply because we've never done anything like this before," school board member Sharla Hales told Big George project manager Robbe Lehmann at the meeting. "We are very excited. We are thrilled for the community and the school and the students. Thank you."
As part of the donation, Douglas will name the complex after Big George Ventures, although the football field will remain named after Keith Roman.
Big George Ventures owner Raymond Sidney and Lehmann approached the high school in December about making a donation to the track project.
Sidney became a millionaire while working as a software engineer for Google before moving to the area. He bought a 100-acre parcel of BLM land at the north end of Douglas County to develop approximately 300 eco-friendly homes.
What remains to be seen is how exactly the money is going to be used.
What is assured is that work on the all-weather track project will begin in mid-March. A planned expansion of the press box to about three times its current size, state-of-the-art track & field equipment, a storage shed for the new equipment and asphalt or landscaping around the track's perimeter are the most-likely additions to the project.
The school has raised approximately $120,000 for the track project and the school district has committed $300,000 as well.
Bidding for both a new track and field turf will be determined over the next two weeks.
If the cost of the track is around $420,000, the school will use the initially committed money for that and use the majority of the Big George donation to install Field Turf.
"We definitely want to be able to do both the track and the turf," Evans said. "But we are not going to force the issue. We'll see what prices the bidding process brings us and we'll make a determination from there.
"Obviously if it comes back to where we would only be able to get the track and the turf and nothing else, we'll go with the no-turf plan because those other improvements are more important at this stage."
The advantage of the turf would be that it would make the complex an all-sports facility, meaning the boys' and girls' soccer teams would be able to play their games there as well.
It would also mean Douglas would not have to expend the water and gas to care for the field that it does now. Many schools with Field Turf estimate savings at nearly $40,000 a year.
"We already have such a fantastic location for our football games," Evans said. "Anyone who has been out there with the mountains and the sunsets just before kickoff knows that it's a special place to be.
"I can't wait to see the finished product with all of these improvements in place. There will be no place like Douglas High on Friday nights."
Evans also said the school would look at trying to develop some larger track meets, maybe even sneaking into the college level, over the next several years. The improvements in the timing equipment and field apparatus would allow the school to do so if it wished.
$1 million donation offered to Douglas High
Record-Courier, by Joey Crandall
January 27, 2006
Big George Ventures, a northern Douglas County developer, has offered to donate $1 million to Douglas High School toward the completion of an all-weather track and other improvements to Keith "Duke" Roman Field.
In return, the company has asked that the football field, track and the surrounding area at the school be named the "Big George Complex."
The Douglas County School District will conduct a special meeting Thursday at the high school media center at 4:30 p.m. to decide whether to accept the donation.
"Incredible is the right way to put it," Douglas cross country coach Keith Cole said Thursday. "It was a good thing I was sitting down when they told me about this. It was just hard to fathom, absolutely unbelievable. It is a tremendous donation."
Cole, who has been raising money for the track project for the better part of the last six years, said he got a call from Big George project manager Robbe Lehmann just before the school's Christmas break.
"He said they were interested in making a sizable donation and we decided to work out the nuts and bolts after the break," Cole said. "When we finally sat down as a group to talk about it, they said they'd like to give us $1 million.
"I nearly fell out of my chair. I still can't even believe it."
Douglas had raised about $110,000 for the track in the last six years and in the spring of 2004, the school board committed an additional $200,000 to the project. Last August, the board committed the funds to pay whatever part of the remaining cost the school couldn't raise.
This donation, in essence, would erase that need.
Big George purchased 100 acres of land in the north Valley area at a Bureau of Land Management auction last October. It plans on building 300-350 eco-friendly homes there, according to Lehmann. The company's owner, Raymond Sidney, of Stateline, was an early software engineer at Google. After leaving the world of high-tech employment, he retired and moved to his current home.
Lehmann said he and Sidney were looking for a way to contribute to the community.
"Raymond and I were both interested in running, we both ran track in high school," Lehmann said. "We were aware that the track down at the high school was just dirt and we knew they were trying to raise funds for that.
"We are still kind of starting out and we wanted to do something to invest in the community and show we are committed to making this a better place to live. As a company we are going to build quality products. This sports complex will also be a quality product."
Cole said plans for the facility would possibly include a field house, a refurbished press box, new track equipment, and necessities for other sports at the school. The primary concern, however, is a number of on-field improvements, such as a new sprinkler system, drainage improvements and new grass.
"The list of possibilities is endless," Cole said. "What they have done for us is basically give us the opportunity to have the premier sports facility in Northern Nevada.
"It's not just the kids who will benefit from this, but the entire community."
Upon hearing the news of the donation, Douglas varsity football coach Mike Rippee was almost speechless.
"The fact that we have the opportunity to build a facility like this ... it's hard to put into words," he said. "We could be the showcase of Northern Nevada for games and events, if not the entire state."
Cole said the effects of the donation would be felt by many generations of Douglas students to come.
"We are so incredibly thankful to Mr. Sidney and Robbe Lehmann," he said. "Words don't even begin to express what they have done for us."
Software engineer bets $16.1 million on north valley property
Record-Courier, by Kurt Hildebrand
October 27, 2005
A former Google software engineer who made a fortune when the company went public was the winning bidder Thursday for 100 acres in northern Douglas County.
Ray Sidney of Stateline bid $16.1 million for the parcel being sold by the Bureau of Land Management along the Carson-Douglas border.
Sidney’s representative Rob Lehmann was on the phone to Sidney in France as the bidding between him and developer John Serpa shot up from the minimum bid of $10 million.
Serpa didn’t go home empty-handed at the public bidding held in the historic Douglas County Courthouse.
He was the successful bidder on a second 100-acre parcel just south of Sidney’s with a bid of $8.4 million.
Both bidders have 180 days to pay the BLM for the parcels.
Serpa said he had no immediate plans for the property, which is already zoned for development.
Lehmann said Sidney planned to develop his property.
The software engineer went to work for Google in 1999, a year after the company was founded and worked there until 2003. He is a 1991 graduate of Harvard with a bachelors degree in mathematics. He received a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995.
BLM Assistant Field Manager Chuck Pope said the bidding did not generate as much of a profit as the sale of a parcel.
“It depends on the market so it’s hard to predict,” he said. “You can’t always expect that you will double the return.”
The parcels were sold at public auction inside the Douglas County Commissioners’ meeting room before a packed house.