Architect launching upscale Hills development
Architect Dick Knecht, a former Rapid City resident who had made a career of creating upscale home designs, is a partner in the new Lakota Lake project south of Rapid City. (Courtesy photo)

RAPID CITY - Dick Knecht, an Aspen, Colo., architect and Rapid City native, is teaming up with former Rapid City advertising man Jim Farmer to build a new upscale housing development in the Lakota Lake area.

Lakota Lake is an 11-acre reservoir on Iron Creek off Iron Mountain Road west of Spokane Creek campground. Their project, called Lakota Lake Encampment, is relatively small with only 14 widely scattered lots.

"Lakota Lake Encampment will be the most exclusive Western trail riding, mountain hiking and trout fishing community in the Black Hills," Farmer, founder of Red Canyon Co., said.

Farmer's Red Canyon Co. developed the Canyon Rim Ranch project. It is on 2,900 acres in Red Canyon near Pringle. Only 500 of those acres are being sold as home sites. The rest is to be left in its natural state, according to the plans.

Farmer was also the principal in Tatanka Development Co.'s 2004 bid to turn the 5,500-acre Casey family land next to Wind Cave National Park into a similar housing project. The deal to buy the land fell through in November 2004, after Tatanka Development Co. didn't get financing arranged by the deadline.

Like Tatanka and Canyon Rim Ranch, the Lakota Lake encampment will be expensive - lots start at $135,000 - and loaded with upscale amenities.

A promotional brochure lists the features that residents would share: "... an in-mountain wine cave, horse facilities, an activities center, an open-air stage for music and theater, a lodge with restaurant, a wine bar, a mountain hiking and trout fishing outfitters lodge, and club membership in the nearby fresh-roasted coffee house and general store (which will replace the old general store currently on the property)."

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And like Red Canyon, the Lakota Lake project is touted as environmentally responsible land development. The developers brought in Applied Ecological Services to conduct an environmental study and help determine the best arrangement of home sites.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this development is the participation of Dick Knecht as partner and exclusive project designer," Farmer said.

Knecht, who lives in Aspen, Colo., has designed a number of upscale homes and housing developments in his career. His design of the John Hauer home near Moab, Utah, was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest Magazine.

This is Knecht's second project with Farmer. He previously designed the clubhouse and equestrian center at Canyon Rim Ranch, and he is working on home designs for individual houses in the development.

Lakota Lake is Knecht's idea. He is a partner and the exclusive project designer.

"I brought the Lakota Lake property to Jim's attention, because I like his commitment to preserving the inherent beauty of the land," Knecht said in the brochure. "This property features a beautiful series of mountain meadows separated by treed ridges and large granite boulders. It has great possibilities and represents an opportunity for me to fulfill a lifelong dream of designing an entire mountain community from beginning to end."

Farmer also operates Vistas, a new vacation rental service that will find short term rentals to fill the homes when the residents are away.

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