Lake Tahoe’s Cal Neva: Property’s owners, marketers mum on future sale |

Lake Tahoe’s Cal Neva: Property’s owners, marketers mum on future sale

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. and#8212; Despite predictions it could be sold as early as September 2009, a Lake Tahoe casino and hotel once owned by Frank Sinatra and infamously rumored to have mob ties is still looking for new owners.

A spokesperson for Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, owners of the Cal Neva Resort, Spa and Casino that straddles the California and Nevada state lines on Lake Tahoeand#8217;s North Shore, declined to comment on the sale.

Likewise, John Knott, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis, the real estate brokerage hired by Canyon in August to market the property, declined to comment. However, a spokesperson for his office did say and#8220;a couple of buyersand#8221; were investigating a possible purchase.

According to published reports in summer 2009 by the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Knott was confident of a quick sale despite low gaming numbers throughout Nevada because of the Cal Nevaand#8217;s amenities and prime location at Crystal Bay.

and#8220;Certainly if there are market pressures that are downward that could limit what someone is willing to pay, but financial performance of this asset is not the basis of why it will sell,and#8221; Knott said in an August 17 NNBW story. and#8220;The asset is irreplaceable. It is the most significant property, other than maybe the Hyatt, on the north shore. It is the highest building and has spectacular views of the lake, and it has a storied history. We will find people who have a vision for what they would like to do with the property.and#8221;

In August, the Bonanza reported Canyon had fielded 150 calls on the property from U.S. hospitality and gaming investors.

Canyon hired NHH Hotels and Resorts in April to manage hotel operations. The Cal Neva sits on 13.6 acres. It includes 219 rooms and cottages, a restaurant, a spa, 16,000 square feet of meeting space and 5,365 square feet of gaming. It was built in 1926 and was a major attraction for Hollywood and the political elite.

Bill Black, CEO of Thomas Group International Hotel Realty, a real estate firm out of Las Vegas, said he had lined up a potential buyer early in December for the property, who later withdrew her name. The buyerand#8217;s interest, he said, centered around owning a business near the lake that had a cabin-like feel and not with operating a casino.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s a strange duck. The casino business is a tough candy store,and#8221; Black said. and#8220;When it comes right down to it, if itand#8217;s not in escrow, nobody wants it yet. This is probably the hardest 24 months the casino business has ever had because of the tremendous drop in take.and#8221;

Black, whoand#8217;s been in the casino industry for the past 54 years, waved off Canyonand#8217;s initial outlook as business as usual.

and#8220;Whenever you post a property like that, many people immediately raise their hands and say we want to know more,and#8221; said Black, saying interest in a property and buying it are two different things.

A price for the property has not been set. The minimum bid at the April auction was set at $15 million.

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