Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010 | 2 a.m.
- Officers denied entry at Wayne Newton’s Las Vegas home (2-25-2010)
- Former friend seeks to foreclose on singer Wayne Newton’s home (2-17-2010)
- Wayne Newton’s abandoned jet rots at Michigan airport (2-4-2010)
- Wayne Newton sued twice this week over alleged unpaid bills (7-17-2009)
- Newton-MGM Grand-pilot suit is pure Vegas drama (3-24-2009)
- Readers’ Memories of Wayne Newton (11-10-2009)
- Life in the Limelight: Wayne Newton (11-8-2009)
Financially troubled super-crooner Wayne Newton will be singing “Danke Schoen” to a Texas developer friend if tentative plans to build what’s described as a Newton dinner-theater, coinciding with tours of Newton’s ranch, Casa de Shenandoah, come to fruition.
Also called “Graceland West,” a tip of the hat to the much-toured home of Elvis Presley, Newton’s home and tour might include something that visitors never saw at the King’s Memphis, Tenn., mansion — live shows. It also might include a look at Newton’s private jet, the tail fin of which can be seen while driving on Sunset Road.
Newton’s 38-acre property is at the southwest corner of Pecos and Sunset roads. In June, county assessor records show, a company known as CSD purchased the property for $18.75 million. The records also show that CSD purchased parcels totaling about 10 acres north of Sunset — across the street from Shenandoah — for almost $10 million.
With lawyers and developers, Newton has visited county officials to lobby for development plans because some zoning changes might be needed. His home is in a rural neighborhood preservation area. Though final plans haven’t been submitted, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said that, based on a meeting with Newton and others, plans could include a dinner-theater for 300 people and a souvenir shop. The theater and shop would go on the land north of Sunset Road.
As Sisolak said it was described to him, a bus would take tourists to the property north of Sunset, then shuttle over to see Newton’s expanse — Newton’s team called it “Graceland West,” but the commissioner wasn’t sure if that is an official name. Afterward, tourists would shuttle back for dinner and a Wayne Newton show.
Newton said, “For me to comment at this time would be inappropriate and could be construed as showing a lack of respect for the county commissioners. Since that process is not finished, I would feel uncomfortable discussing it.”
Sisolak said he’s inclined to support the developers, he said, because despite the area’s rural designation, Shenandoah is the only place he could find that isn’t zoned commercial or professional. “So why should (Newton) be held to a different standard than all the other properties?” Sisolak asked.
Nevada secretary of state’s office records list CSD LLC’s managing member as CSD Management LLC, whose managing partner is Steve L. Kennedy of Blanco, Texas. Kennedy was reluctant to talk about the project, he said, because he wants to work with all concerned to resolve any differences.
“I want to do this right,” he said, adding that he expects plans to be submitted to the county within the next month.
Kennedy described himself as having a “special bond” with Newton. “He’s really a nice, caring guy, one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. When he and I talk, we almost finish each other’s sentences.”
An impetus for the project, he added, was to get Newton’s name “back where it should be.”
“And we’re going to create jobs, we’re going to do something good for the community,” Kennedy added. “This will be a win-win for everyone.”
Some won’t see it that way.
One area resident said the development would not fit the rural area. Shenandoah is one of the most expansive properties in an area where owners include casino operators and developers with large lots and offers the feel of a rural oasis surrounded by dense, suburban tracts.
“This would change the entire area,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified.
Neighbors noticed that something was afoot when they recently spotted a jet’s tail fin behind the wall surrounding Newton’s property. The plane is probably Newton’s Fokker F-28 twin-engine jet. Operators of a Detroit-area airport said this year that Newton owed more than $60,000 in storage fees after abandoning the plane at the airport three years ago. Other reports said that more recently, the plane had been disassembled, then reassembled at Shenandoah.
On Aug. 24, a complaint was filed with Clark County’s Public Response Office/Code Enforcement against the jet. The county decided that Newton has until Sept. 7 to “remove the junk inoperable jet plane from the property.” Penalties accrue at the rate of $100 per day for the first 10 days, $500 per day for the next 20 days, and $1,000 per day if the plane is not removed. Total fines cannot exceed $10,000 or three times the cost to fix the problem.
Newton, also known as “Mr. Las Vegas,” has performed on the Las Vegas Strip for 50 years. He has also been in financial trouble from time to time. In 2006, Monty Ward filed a lawsuit against him for almost $500,000 in back pay. Ward was Newton’s jet pilot. Ward won the case in September 2009. In April, Ward’s attorneys filed a “satisfaction of judgment” in the matter in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
In February, O. Bruton Smith, CEO and controlling stockholder of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which operates several NASCAR racetracks including Las Vegas Motor Speedway, sued Newton in District Court in Clark County, alleging he was delinquent on a $3.35 million loan. Court records show that case was closed after a “voluntary dismissal” in early July.