The 36,600-square-foot motor lodge had been part of John Farahi's consciousness for so long that that he was startled by its absence.
"This really opens up the property," said Farahi, chief executive officer of Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, as demolition of the motor lodge buildings continued last week.
The demolition handled by Diversified Concrete Cutting of Sparks is the first step toward the next phase of expansion of Atlantis, but the timing of that expansion depends on recovery of the national and regional economy, Farahi said. Completion of the demolition today will allow the company to move more quickly when it's ready to start expansion.
In the meantime, the space previously occupied by the motor lodge on the northern edge of the Atlantis property will provide about 30 percent more parking.
The 40-year-old rooms in the motor lodge also had presented some branding issues for Atlantis.
"The quality of the rooms in the motor lodge didn't meet the standards of the rest of the property," Farahi said. "It caused some confusion among the guests."
But the demolition also swept away some memories for Farahi and his brothers, who spent nights sleeping on a cot behind the front desk of the motel then known as the Golden Road after their family purchased it in 1972.
Farahi said members of the family cleaned the rooms, dealt with plumbing emergencies and solved innumerable minor crises in the property's early days.
"There's not a thing we didn't do to keep those rooms occupied," he recalled.
For 18 years, the motor lodge rooms which were divided among four buildings were the only guest rooms on the property. A restaurant known as the Copper Kettle also was also part of the complex.
In late 1989, two of the motor lodge buildings were relocated on the east side of the property, and the other two buildings were moved in 1990.
That cleared the way for construction of the first 12-story hotel tower at the property, whose location at Peckham Road and South Virginia Street was near the southern outskirts of Reno at the time. The tower opened in 1991 under the Clarion flag.
Even with the demolition of the motor lodge units, Golden Road Motor Inn Inc. hasn't disappeared entirely. It's still the legal name of the entity that operates Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. Golden Road, in turn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the publicly held Monarch Casino & Resort Inc.
Atlantis donated 400 items of furniture and fixtures from the now-demolished motor lodge rooms to The Launching Pad, a nonprofit that assists northern Nevadans with addictions.