Pig farmer Bob Combs fed casino leftovers to squealing pigs for years on his spread 10 miles north of the Strip.

He saw it as God’s work to recycle the food, but with pungent fumes in the air, plenty of people couldn’t wait for him to push the pigs out of the neighborhood.

Now, months after he put his land on the market, investors have bought the property — but the Combs family isn’t done feeding Las Vegas’ table scraps to hogs.

Combs recently sold about 154 acres at North Fifth Street and Ann Road — comprising the R.C. Farms site and adjacent, vacant land – to developer Guy Inzalaco for $23 million, Clark County records show.

The deal, a fraction of what buyers reportedly offered before the Great Recession, closed Nov. 1 and was financed heavily by the sellers: Inzalaco’s group still owes $20.5 million to Combs for the purchase, property records show.

The sale gives them perhaps one of the larger remaining “infill” sites in the valley, or developable land surrounded by existing projects and not on the valley’s outer edge. But the redevelopment of R.C. Farms, a muddy outpost of agriculture surrounded by suburban sprawl, would also pave over a unique and smelly slice of Las Vegas history.

Inzalaco, a partner with Olympia Cos., developer of the Southern Highlands community, bought the site for his own venture, not for Olympia, said Providence Commercial broker and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon, who represented Combs in the sale.

Inzalaco partnered on the deal with Reno developer James Pickett, founder of Ladera Ventures. Their plans aren’t finalized, but Montandon said they are planning a development with housing tracts and a retail center with space for a grocery store.

They are slated to file zoning applications by the first week of December and make a formal project presentation to the city of North Las Vegas by mid-January. The site is in unincorporated Clark County, and the developers plan to get it annexed into North Las Vegas, according to Montandon.

Combs has been winding down operations because he’s retiring, and the pig farm “will be completely gone” by Jan. 15, said Delen Goldberg, North Las Vegas government spokeswoman.

“There will literally be thousands of homes positively affected by that,” Montandon said.

In a statement, current Mayor John Lee said he “pledged to increase property values for all of our residents, and I am thrilled that thousands of homes now will have the odor restriction removed from their title, resulting in a dramatic increase in property values across our community.”

Meanwhile, Combs will live in his house at the property “for as long as he cares to,” Montandon said. Property records indicate that Combs and his wife, Janet, reached a deal to occupy and maintain a 4.3-acre chunk of land there as “life tenants.”

Combs and Inzalaco did not return calls seeking comment.

Pickett told the Review-Journal that it’s hard to find an infill property as large as R.C. Farms and that it’s already surrounded by homes and schools. “Most developments have to plan for all that stuff.”

He also said his group could have “just bought it” but that it was “better” for Combs’ estate planning to finance the deal.

NEW LIVESTOCK VENTURE

Combs’ pig-feeding days may be ending, but his family is launching a new venture in the area.

His son Clinton Combs confirmed that he and his brother Hank are building a pig farm on a 50-acre parcel they’re leasing at Republic Services’ landfill at Apex Industrial Park, some 30 miles north of the Strip.

The facility, dubbed Las Vegas Livestock, is expected to open by January. Clinton said he and his brother would buy small pigs, “feed them to market weight” and then sell them to slaughterers. Like the pigs at R.C. Farms, the brothers’ swine would also munch on casino leftovers.

Clinton said the facility would start with about 5,000 pigs — as large as R.C. Farms ever got, he added — but is permitted for up to 25,000.

According to reports, Bob Combs launched his food-scrap recycling business in the 1960s. He started with four casinos — Golden Nugget, Fremont, El Cortez and Jerry’s Nugget — and Nellis Air Force Base as clients.

By 2006, roughly 3,500 pigs were feeding on scraps — boiled into a “slurry stew,” as a report described it — from 22 casino-resorts.

Southern Nevada grew fast for decades and turned white hot about a dozen years ago during the real estate bubble. North Las Vegas was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at the time, and housing tracts surrounded Combs’ once-isolated farm.

Montandon said last decade that a developer offered Combs $75 million for his property. The farmer’s new neighbors, meanwhile, weren’t pleased to live near a foul-smelling business, and government officials weren’t thrilled either.

Las Vegas housing tracker Dennis Smith, founder of Home Builders Research, says officials didn’t want to put Combs out of business – they just wanted him to move.

“I’m sure the city of North Las Vegas is tickled to death,” he said. “They’ve been trying to get Bob to sell that ranch for years.”

SMELL LINGERS

Combs decided by March that he was ready, as Lee held a news conference announcing the farm was on the market. With an asking price of about $30.8 million, Combs offered bidders the option to buy the farm in 36 months. But according to Montandon, he ultimately scrapped those plans and sold directly.

The farm is about to vanish, but the smell hasn’t. Renae Thomas, a 40-year-old College of Southern Nevada student with four children, lives across from the property. The smell outside is strong, and Thomas said she used to hang fly traps, including over the kitchen table, and replace them after a few days. The traps, she said, were “completely full.”

Combs, for one, doesn’t mind the stench outside. As he told the Los Angeles Times a few years ago: “It don’t bother me. To me, it’s like walking past a bakery.”


imgPigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgPig farmer Bob Combs stands in the doorway of his home at RC Farms, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in North Las Vegas. He has sold the pig farm to a developer for $23 million. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgPigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRC Farms in North Las Vegas has been sold for $23 million to a developer, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRC Farms in North Las Vegas has been sold to a developer for $23 million, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRemaining pigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRemaining pigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRemaining pigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgA pig statue sits on the hood of a truck on the property of RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgA compost field at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

imgRemaining pigs at RC Farms in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @EliPagePhoto)

Geolocation

By ELI SEGALL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.