$60 million in renovations planned | TahoeDailyTribune.com

$60 million in renovations planned

Andrew Pridgen

As the Cal Neva Resort Spa and Casino continues its 80th anniversary celebration, there is big talk about the resort’s pending renovation and restoration into an Intrawest-model owner-occupied and leased condominium complex.

Namwest LLC, the Phoenix-based developer that purchased the resort last year, has some $60 million in renovations planned for the resort beyond condo units, including meeting space upgrades as well as a new eco-friendly co-generation plant.

Some have intimated that groundbreaking could come as early as next spring, though no local agencies or planning commissions can corroborate a timeline.

New Cal Neva general manager Josef Haas said “multiple agencies have been contacted” (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Washoe and Placer counties) and the resort “does have immediate plans” for the remodel, but was reluctant to give any kind of timeline.

“My job is to see to the day-to-day here,” Haas said, “to make this experience the right one, right now.”

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While lacking permits or concrete design specifications to guide comment, TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said in July her agency will look closely at the property’s historic structures, like the cottages, foremost.

Before selling the property, former owner Chuck Bluth tried to renovate/remove some of the property’s older structures and was rebuffed by the agency, officials said.

“A lot of issues came up when it came to the historic nature of old cabins,” Regan said. “This will be part of the analysis as well.”

Cal Neva general manager Haas said the hotel would be restored keeping all historic structures “top of mind.”

“It won’t be hard to do,” Haas said. “You can’t build a building like this today.”

Regan noted that she could not speculate on the nature of the agency’s reaction, in part because she felt any new project “will be unlike any we have on file.”

One preliminary idea from those at Namwest is to move two of its famous cottages (formerly occupied by Marilyn Monroe and former owner Frank Sinatra) to the front of the resort.

The Cal Neva was built in 1926 by San Francisco developer Robert Sherman, who wanted his lakefront home to resemble the log cabin from the Broadway play “Lightnin'” (starring Will Rogers).

When the property burned to the ground in 1937, it was immediately re-built in just one month by Norman Biltz (who consequently also founded the Incline Lake retreat).

The resort features a great room and a swimming pool that straddle the California/Nevada border and has been a prominent location for films including “Things Change” and “The Godfather Part II.”

Reno-based Lundahl and Associates architectural firm (the same responsible for the Hyatt renovation) has been hired to complete the resort’s renovation plans.

There is no information about the floorplan or design of potential condominium units.

Cal Neva officials could not comment on how much the condominium units (which can be leased back to the hotel for guest occupancy by the owner) would cost.

Similar units in Squaw Valley and Northstar sell from $500,000 to the $1.5 million range.

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