The Cal Neva Lodge & Casino, the Lake Tahoe resort that was once a favored destination of Frank Sinatra and his “Rat Pack” cronies, could be primed for a facelift from one of the world’s glitziest hotel operators and restaurant chains.
Cal Neva, owned by Larry Ellison, the founder of enterprise software giant Oracle, is looking to develop the dormant resort on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore with the help of Nobu, the Japanese-inspired, high-end restaurant chain founded by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Hollywood star Robert De Niro, producer Meir Teper and restaurateur Drew Nieporent.
Ellison, one of California’s richest residents, acquired Cal Neva in 2018 for $35.8 million while the property was in bankruptcy receivership. Criswell-Radovan, LLC, a Golden State real estate developer, was the previous owner, having acquired the history-rich venue in 2013 and shuttering it for renovations later that year, but Cal Neva hasn’t been open since then.
We’re now designing and developing [it] to make it into a Nobu Hotel and, of course, a restaurant,” said Teper in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
Upon acquiring the property last year, Ellison noted redevelopment plans also include a new casino on the property. Cal Neva made an application for a non-restricted gaming license in April, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC).
History With Nobu
While his purchase of Cal Neva was Ellison’s initial foray into the Nevada gaming scene, the technology mogul has history with Nobu. The hotel and restaurant operator runs Ellison’s Epiphany hotel in Palo Alto, Calif. and his Nobu Ryokan hotel in Malibu, Calif.
Cal Neva is located in Crystal Bay on the lake’s North Shore, an area that has recently been luring ultra-wealthy scions of technology and Hollywood in search of the tax breaks offered by Nevada.
According to Bill Dietz, president of Tahoe Luxury Properties, much of the spike in popularity in Tahoe’s upscale sector can be attributed to Nevada’s favorable tax structure with respect to California,” according to Hollywood Reporter.
President Trump’s 2017 tax reform bill eliminated some of the real estate deductions previously enjoyed by property owners in high tax states, prompting Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley elite to embrace the Lake Tahoe area – on the Nevada side.
In addition to Ellison, property owners near Cal Neva include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, among others.
In 2017, Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn sold a house in the tony Incline Village area for $31.1 million, nearly doubling his 1998 investment of $16 million to acquire the property.
With Cal Neva being closed for more than six years, there are currently just three operational casinos on Tahoe’s North Shore – Grand Lodge, Crystal Bay, and Tahoe Biltmore – and those venues combine for just 750 slot machines and 40 tables games.
When Ellison’s team and Nobu are finished renovating the property, the new Cal Neva is expected to be a five-star hotel to meet the stringent demands of the elite California clientele Northern Nevada has been attracting.
Nobu officials didn’t comment on how long the renovation would take, but Dietz told the Hollywood Reporter that projects of this magnitude in Lake Tahoe typically require significant patience on the developer’s part.