For sale: $50M Lake Tahoe compound with vanishing garage

@CNNMoney May 4, 2012: 8:25 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When Internet millionaire Tom Gonzales was putting together his elaborate family compound on the shores of Lake Tahoe, he had one big concern: Where to put some of the most valuable cars in his 400-car collection.

The solution was to build a 12,000-square foot subterranean parking garage big enough to hold 30 cars, plus dozens of motorcycles.

How those cars get below ground is another matter. Gonzalez, who was co-founder of the once high-flying e-commerce company Commerce One, commissioned a massive 12-foot- by 60-foot custom-built aircraft elevator, the type used to lift planes up onto the flight decks of aircraft carriers. When the elevator isn't moving cars, it's camouflaged with rocks, plants and trees -- both real and artificial.

Above ground is a three-bedroom, 2,100-square-foot home that Gonzales calls the Carriage House. The property is being sold as part of Gonzales' $50 million compound, which includes three other homes, or as a separate parcel for $8.9 million.

Called the Sierra Star, the estate near Incline Village, Nev., includes the Carriage House, a main 10,000-square foot home and two other houses. The properties have expansive views of gorgeous Lake Tahoe, one of the most scenic landscapes in the nation.

"In summertime it's heaven," said Gonzales. "In winter too, if you're a skier."

After all, this is snow country, sometimes receiving 40 feet or more of the white stuff in a season. World-class ski resorts, like Heavenly, occupy many of the peaks around the lake.

The estate is a high-country dream. Ponderosa pines and cedars grace its four-plus acres, along with a man-made waterfall. In addition, the property has more than 330 feet of lake frontage, two piers with boat lifts, and a sandy beach with a bungalow.

Originally intended to be a gathering place for Gonzales' family, the property is now too big for him. His son Tom, the other founder of Commerce One, died of cancer almost 10 years ago.

"I've enjoyed the property over the years, but now it's just me," he said.

He spends most of his time in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. now, where he enjoys the climate and the boating.

No longer in the software business -- Commerce One filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004 -- Gonzales is now in the land development business, according to Susan Rindley of Sotheby's International Realty, who represents him in his real estate dealings.

"He's the kind of guy who, if he gets tired of something, he sells it," she said.

Like the Carriage House, the other properties can also be sold separately. Gonzales is asking for $14.9 million for the seven-bedroom Main House; $9.3 million for the five-bedroom Lakeview house; and $6.3 million for four-bedroom Parkview house.

There's also a lot with 100 feet of lake shore for $9.9 million. It's ready for a house to be built on it -- with or without an underground garage.

See all four houses on the Sierra Star compound

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