Renovations Underway on Cal Neva Resort and Casino - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Renovations Underway on Cal Neva Resort and Casino

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The Cal Neva Resort and Casino, a well-known landmark on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, is getting a makeover.

The historic place that saw the likes of Frank Sinatra, who partly owned it from 1960-1963, Marilyn Monroe, and many others recently closed for renovations by the new owners, Criswell-Radovan, LLC, a Napa, California-based development company which bought the property in April 2013.

Robert Radovan told me they're keeping the Cal Neva name.

"This is a property that has not been working at its best and highest use for quite some time," he said. "But, everybody knows the property still. It's amazing how that works."

Radovan says they want to restore the Cal Neva into a luxury hotel and casino property, with renovations to its 6,000 square-foot gaming floor. He also says they want to keep much of the pieces that made the Cal Neva well-known, including the Indian Room. It has a fireplace that marks the split between the Nevada and California state lines. I got to tour other parts of the property, from the Frank Sinatra Showroom to the Circle Bar. Then, I went down into the infamous underground tunnels that were used by Hollywood icons to hide from the crowds above. Radovan says those historical areas will receive minor renovations like new paint and floor coverings.

"They all have their own identities in their time and place," he said. "But, we had to upgrade the place, make it modern, and yet, when you walk in, the second you walk through the door, you go, 'I'm in the Cal Neva.'"

Radovan says they're planning to bring in some new restaurants. The old eatery near the casino area will be turned into a meeting room. They plan to have a restaurant outside the Circle Bar that will extend to two floors.

"We're going to take the old pool that becomes part of the seating and dining area for that new restaurant," he said. "It becomes an indoor-outdoor space."

He says that old pool will be moved closer toward Lake Tahoe, and as for the 10-story guest rooms and the outdoor bungalows, it's all still in the planning process.

Mary Avansino of Reno says she's excited to see the finished product.

"I've been up here many times," she said. "Been down through the tunnels underneath it. Was up here when Frank Sinatra was here, but didn't see him."

She brought her friend, Gary Von Alven of Davie, Florida, to the property to take pictures and reminisce.

"The gambling was never allowed on the California side, you know, only on the Nevada side," she said. "We always laughed about that!"

Von Alven was intrigued by the history behind the property.

"I think it's really neat to renovate these old sites that have kind of seen its heyday," he said. "People are going to love coming out here and re-living it and just experiencing what the boys and girls of many years ago enjoyed." 

Property owners say the Cal Neva is expected to create about 150 full-time jobs.

"We can start bringing in a lot more people into the market, especially in the off-seasons," Radovan said. "I think you really want to drive that group business, so that you have stable jobs throughout the year. Not just a summer job or a winter job, but a stable, throughout-the-year economic impact."

It's all set to open on December 12th, 2014, which would have been Frank Sinatra's 99th birthday.

Written by Adam Varahachaikol

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