Ormsby House not for sale, just slow in starting renovations

The latest from the perpetual rumor mill that is the Ormsby House is that Cubix partners Al Fiegehen and Don Lehr want to sell the closed-down hotel-casino.

Lehr was quick to squelch the for-sale rumor.

"It's all nonsense," Lehr said. "There's no truth to it whatsoever. I think it was probably caused in the slowness in getting started (with major renovations). Believe me, one architect's ears are ringing this morning."

The Ormsby House shut down in the wee hours of Monday morning for a $10 million overhaul to transform the tired, three-decade-old building into a five-star hotel that the owners want to tout as the best in Northern Nevada.

Fiegehen and Lehr bought the Ormsby House in September 1999 and in January announced renovation plans that called for much of the work to be done by this summer. Instead, they found unexpected problems around nearly every corner and behind just about every wall.

Architectural designs are still in the works and Lehr doesn't expect major construction work to get under way until December or January. The most optimistic date for reopening is July but Lehr acknowledged that all he can do is guess.

"That's true," he said. "All you can do is use your guts. There's a ton of work that needs to be done. This is tougher than a new project. There's a whole set of problems.

"The trouble with the Ormsby House is it's not just a reconfiguration," Lehr said. "The real problems is the structural work that needs to be done.

Symbolic of all the challenges is the fourth-floor access to the rooftop swimming pool.

The floor levels differ from the front of the casino to the hotel. A person needs to go up a couple steps to get from the fourth-floor rooms to the pool.

The ceiling is only eight feet high, leaving not enough vertical space to install a ramp to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lehr said no solution has emerged for this puzzle, one of many challenges in the renovation.

This week and next, the remaining workers at the Ormsby House are closing down the hotel, removing the slot machines and all the furnishings. This also includes closing out 3-, 4- and 5-year contracts with a number of suppliers, Lehr said.


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