The Cal Neva Resort & Casino has been around for a long time and its ownership has changed hands on numerous occasions over the years. The legendary Frank Sinatra owned the casino during the 60’s before he leased it out to a number of investment groups. The iconic property was purchased last by Criswell-Radovan, LLC who decided to close the property in September 2013 and carry out major renovations.
The developer initially planned to complete the renovation work and open the casino in December 2014 and celebrate Sinatra’s 99th birthday but was forced to delay its opening. The company planned to invest around $49 million to complete the renovation process but has been unable to do so due to a lack of finances. The casino has been closed for the last three years and Criswell-Radovan recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Construction work on the project was stopped late last year and the developer has informed the courts that it is in need of another $23.8 million for the renovation work to be completed.
Criswell-Radovan financial problems were highlighted in February 2016 after the developer missed payments on a $6 million loan. The lender was looking at a foreclosure sale which prompted David Potras, the lawyer for Criswell-Radovan to initiate Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings which prevented the foreclosure sale from going forward.
The developer filed papers with the U.S bankruptcy court in Santa Rosa last week stating that it is on the lookout for financial backers and is confident of securing the required finances within the next couple of months. Criswell-Radovan stated in its filing that once sufficient funds were secured the renovation work would be completed within six months, after which the Cal Neva Resort & Casino value would go up to $75 million.
The casino, which is located near Lake Tahoe, has found it difficult to compete with the number of tribal casinos in California. Tahoe has worked on transforming its image into a luxury destination and the $49 million renovation process initially planned by Criswell Radovan included a 6,000-square-foot of gaming space that would showcase the glamour belonging to the Sinatra era; a rebuilding of the 10 storey hotel tower and an upgrade of all facilities.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, the international hotel chain, was contracted by the developer to operate the Cal Neva as a luxury resort. Starwood has stated that the Cal Neva is expected to open in April 2017 and will feature as part of the hotel chain’s luxury collection. Based on court records, Criswell-Radovan currently owes Starwood Hotels around $30,000.