California firm acquires Tahoe Biltmore in $56.9 million deal

Northern Nevada Business Weekly Staff Report

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — EKN Development Group, with assistance from financial partners Garn Development and Stack Real Estate, recently acquired the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino in Crystal Bay.

The Tahoe Biltmore resort/casino property is located in Crystal Bay, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe's North Shore, across the highway from separately owned Crystal Bay Casino.

According to an Oct. 7 press release from the Newport Beach, California-based real state development firm, EKN will continue operation of the 113-room hotel and casino located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe’s North Shore “while finalizing plans for the development of the 15-acre site.”

According to the Washoe County Recorder’s Office, the $56,875,000 transaction closed Sept. 16, with EKN acquiring the property from Boulder Bay LLC, of which Roger Wittenberg and daughter Heather Bacon are principals.

Boulder Bay LLC originally purchased the 75-year-old property in 2007 for $28,350,000, according to county records, with grandiose redevelopment plans for the historic property.

Those plans, first unveiled in 2008, were eventually approved in 2011, despite some community criticism, by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. However, funding and other concerns over the years aided delays.

Per the Oct. 7 press release, EKN intends to develop the property “into a branded marquee destination for both locals and visitors to Lake Tahoe’s vibrant North Shore.”

“EKN Development Group is extremely pleased to add this development opportunity in North Lake Tahoe to our portfolio,” company CEO Ebbie Khan Nakhjavani said in a statement. “The design of this project will introduce an unparalleled hospitality experience that will accentuate Lake Tahoe’s natural scenery and beauty, while embracing the distinctive and pristine characteristics of the region.”

The press release notes the Biltmore project qualifies for the TRPA’s Community Enhancement Program, which promotes “developments that provide substantial environmental, social or economic benefits to the Lake Tahoe Basin.”

In a separate statement, the company said further project details would be announced soon.

The history of the Tahoe Biltmore dates back to its original establishment in 1946. Over the years, the property has held several names, including the Nevada Lodge and Cal-Neva Biltmore, before it reverted to the current Tahoe Biltmore name in 1984.

The casino features more than 100 slot machines, a handful of table games and a William Hill sportsbook.

Founded in 2012 by Nakhjavani, EKN Development Group specializes in developing hotel, retail, mixed-use and high-density multi-family properties across the United States.

The Biltmore acquisition is the latest by EKN in a series of transactions aiming to “strategically expand its holdings to include regional destinations in key markets across the United States,” according to the company.

“During the pandemic, EKN accelerated its expansion activities which resulted in securing over $250 million in equity commitments for projects slated to break ground in the next year,” according to the release.

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