Historic Cal Neva Resort to remain open

RENO " The lender that foreclosed on the historic Cal Neva Resort at Lake Tahoe said Wednesday that a private management firm has been hired to run the operation and keep it open while the hotel-casino's future is contemplated.

Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, a Los Angeles-based investment group, earlier this month assumed ownership of the hotel-casino once owned by Frank Sinatra after no bids were received at foreclosure sales held April 8 in California and Nevada.

Canyon identified the new manager as NHH Hotels & Resorts, the management arm of National Hospitality Holdings LLC, a Philadelphia-based company that specializes in hotel investment and management.

"We've made it very clear that our plan is to keep the property open while we assess the property and its future," said Jonathan Roth, a Canyon principal.

Among other things, he said efforts are being made to rejuvenate wedding and event-driven business.

Canyon officials also said they've received "dozens" of calls from potential investors inquiring about the 13-acre site that straddles the Nevada-California line on Tahoe's north shore.

"Cal Neva is an historic property located in one of the most beautiful settings in the West," said Richard Bosworth, a senior director at the firm.

Canyon filed a default notice against the Cal Neva in December after its owner, Namcal LLC, failed to make payments on a $26.8 million debt. Namcal bought it from former owner Charles Bluth in February 2005

Roth said one-third of the property is in California and the rest in Nevada, which required separate auctions. That "masked" the Cal Neva's true market value and likely dissuaded any interested purchasers, he said. No bidders offered the minimum opening bid of $15 million.

Sinatra owned the Cal Neva from 1960 to 1963, often drawing Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Sinatra's gambling license was stripped by the Nevada Gaming Control Board after Chicago mobster Sam Giancana showed up at the resort.

The present resort was built in 1937, when a fire destroyed the original lodge that opened in 1926.


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