Landmark bought for $30M |

Landmark bought for $30M

The Cal Neva Resort, a North Lake Tahoe landmark once owned by Frank Sinatra, was sold Wednesday for $30 million to a corporation from Phoenix.

Previous owner Charles Bluth cited exhaustion and frustration over dealing with development restrictions in the Tahoe Basin as the primary motivation behind the sale.

Bluth said the as-yet unidentified corporation plans to continue developing time shares at the resort – part of Bluth’s initial $20 million remodel project. The deal will become a joint venture between his construction company and the corporation.

“They plan to bring the facility up to a four-diamond rating,” Bluth said. “They’ll renovate rooms to bring it up to that level.”

Bluth will lease the casino for the next four months, after which Larry Woolf, former president of Caesars at Tahoe and currently the CEO of Navegante Group, will lease the casino, Bluth said.

“He knows the business well and will be successful at it,” Bluth said.

The Phoenix-based corporation approached Bluth in late July 2004, not long after he put the resort on the market. Six other buyers expressed interest, but Bluth chose

Bluth bought the Cal Neva Resort in 1985. The famous resort that had once been under the ownership of Frank Sinatra and served as a haven for celebrities like the Rat Pack and Marilyn Monroe had fallen on hard times and been out of business for three years.

During his 20 year ownership, Bluth revitalized the hotel, rebuilding its entryway and returning it to its status as “Lady of the Lake.” The toll of trying to improve the resort under Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County regulations wore Bluth out, he said.

“The environment here is anti-business,” Bluth said. “Even when you’re doing things to improve your property, they fight you tooth and nails.”

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