Ormsby House remodeling progressing quietly, co-owner says

Remodeling and upgrading at the Ormsby House is making progress outside of the public eye, but it is "frustratingly slow," according to co-owner Don Lehr.

Lehr and partner Al Fiegehen, who also co-own Cubix Corp., a computer manufacturing firm, purchased the hotel/casino in September 1999 and began a $10 million project early this year intended to transform the sometimes struggling hotel/casino into a top-quality property.

"Every time we open a wall, we find something else we need to take care of," Lehr said Friday. "It would be easier to build it from scratch."

Still, Lehr said the partners are committed to the Ormsby House project.

"We came into this with our eyes wide open," he said.

Lehr said he expects the "new Ormsby House" will debut at the beginning of next summer.

"Of course, we've already made some important changes, especially in the restaurants," he said. "I think our steak house is right up there now.

"We haven't been very aggressive marketing the OH lately because the people here know what we have. Why would we say 'Come see the same old Ormsby House?' "

Major work on the mechanical systems - heating and cooling, elevators, plumbing and electrical systems - is being done daily, he said.

"We put in a new water tower for the cooling, for instance. The guests may not be impressed by that, but our maintenance man is pretty happy. And it means the guests will be more comfortable," he said.

"We're preparing the basement for installation of the boilers down there. We've had to move a ton of pipes, but we're ready now to move the boilers down from the roof."

The hotel elevators will be completely upgraded by the end of the year, he said, but the only visible difference will be that the controls will be ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant.

A megawatt-capacity, backup generator is being installed so the lights can stay on during power failures, he said.

The 10th floor of the 200-room hotel is gutted and the owners have cartons of blueprints for the refurbishing and remodeling of the hotel rooms ready for when the infrastructure upgrades are completed.

"We intend to bring this hotel back to the level it was when the Laxalt family had it," he said.

The Ormsby House Hotel Casino was built in 1972 by Paul Laxalt, a former governor and U.S. senator. The facility has had a number of owners during the past two decades including Woody Loftin, then his son, Truett, after Loftin passed away, and Barry Silverton, a Las Vegas developer.


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