One of Mohave County’s most anticipated industrial developments may have lost its footing this week, with the announcement that Las Vegas-based Pegasus Group Holdings defaulted on land payments for its renewable energy venture south of Kingman.
The property is owned by Las Vegas entrepreneur Thomas Boeckle, who agreed to sell the land to Pegasus under an installment agreement. According to Boeckle estate controller Christine Zimmerman, Pegasus still owed $5.5 million for the property when the company defaulted on its payments to Boeckle. Zimmerman says the possible site of Pegasus’ solar energy project — more than 700 acres of desert in the area of Apache Road — was returned to Boeckle in an estate sale earlier this month.
The property was closely tied to economic development plans for Mohave County, with county officials commissioning the construction of a $750,000 road to accommodate Pegasus and other businesses in the area of Griffith Industrial Park. But according to Zimmerman, it may not be Pegasus’ planned project that sees the benefit of that investment.
“The property wasn’t paid for,” Zimmerman said. “Now it’s vacant land, and (Boeckle) is working to resolve the issue. He wants to sell it like he did two years ago … but I believe this was a bad business venture to begin with. The next time the property is sold, I don’t think it will be done in installments. (Boeckle) will want to be paid in full.”
An ambitious start
On Aug. 6, 2019, officials from Mohave County and the city of Kingman met with executives from Pegasus Group Holdings at what would become “The HIVE,” near Kingman’s Griffith Industrial Park.
According to Mohave County Communications Director Roger Galloway, security was high at the event, with armed guards patrolling the site’s perimeter. Brand ambassador Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, joined officials in a private ceremony before the groundbreaking alongside self-help guru Tony Robbins, who arrived at the site by helicopter.
And under former Pegasus Group Holdings CEO Daniel Briggs, the company had an attractive offer. The HIVE project would comprise a $3 billion, 717-acre, 340-megawatt solar data facility in the Kingman area. The project was expected to provide 50 new jobs in Mohave County once it was finished, and many more throughout its construction.
Ferguson said at the event that she hoped it would help bring internet and broadband technology to areas of Mohave County that did not have internet access at the time.
Jay Bloom, of Pegasus’ former board of directors, said at the event that the data center would offer a reliable energy and data alternative for businesses including cryptocurrency companies, as well as increased network security for those companies.
Briggs departed Pegasus Group Holdings in 2020, and was replaced by current CEO John Cooper.
According to statements by Cooper earlier this year, restructuring within the company led to further analysis of the HIVE project’s original goals. Cooper said in June that the company would move forward at the HIVE’s planned location, but in form reduced from the company’s original vision.
The solar data center would now be a solar field, Cooper said. The project would still create jobs, and still provide energy to county residents, but not to the extent Pegasus officials initially planned.
“With the original version of the project, the economic structure wasn’t making any sense,” Cooper said in June. “Now the company is in full engineering mode.”
That announcement followed a decision earlier this year by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, who approved the construction of a 13,200-foot roadway in the area of Griffith Industrial Park to accommodate the development of Pegasus and other industrial ventures in the Kingman area. The road ultimately cost $782,522, with about a third of that sum reimbursed through an Arizona Economic Authority grant program.
Cooper said in June that new plans for the project would be presented to the board of supervisors by the end of this year, at the earliest.
Company makes new plans, supervisor expresses doubt
As of this week, Pegasus’ plans for Mohave County remained in flux. But according to Cooper, Pegasus will continue to negotiate with the property owner.
“Pegasus and the land owner have already come to a short term agreement on the land, and are working toward finalizing a long-term agreement,” Cooper said on Thursday.
Cooper said this week that the company continues to remain in contact with Boeckle, with the intent of moving forward at the proposed location.
“There have been quite a few delays, related to the coronavirus and issues related to water flow in the area,’ Cooper said. “We’re trying to see how we can manage … but we’re still 100% committed to coming to Mohave County and Kingman.”
Zimmerman was unaware of any resolution that would allow Pegasus to retain control of the property as of Thursday.
“They were considering a lease on the property for the time being,” Zimmerman said. “But as far as I’m aware, that hasn’t fruitioned into anything. I can’t comment on what they’re saying, but I know what we’re doing.”
Zimmerman said that a sale of the property to another owner or company would be the most likely outcome.
Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould has long been skeptical of the project, and voted against Pegasus’ proposal when it was first introduced. He appeared unsurprised by news of the new development in a Today’s News-Herald interview this week.
“This is what I said would happen,” Gould said. “The board wasted $750,000 to build a road for a business that would never come. We have more pressing needs in Mohave County than a speculative road.”
But according to Mohave County Public Works Director Steven Latoski, construction of that road in the Griffith Industrial Park area may still benefit the county regardless of how Pegasus fares in its negotiations with Boeckle.
The road now serves 1,128 acres of land that has been zoned for heavy manufacturing. That land is already primed for development, Latoski said, with access to electric and water utilities – and access to I-40 for possible future companies that take root in Mohave County.