After 16 years of work to remodel and modernize the Ormsby House hotel-casino, owners Don Lehr and Al Fiegehen are putting the Carson City property up for sale.
They purchased the property in 1999 for $3.75 million but closed the hotel and casino in 2000 saying it needed extensive work.
Lehr said at the time plans were to completely remodel the property, reducing the number of hotel rooms but converting them into suites and completely updating everything from the HVAC to the plumbing.
Lehr said in a 2014 interview with the Appeal they should have razed the building instead because of the numerous problems they encountered — many of which have since been fixed at substantial cost.
The remodeling work has included extensive work on the concrete structure itself, new wiring throughout, pipes, power and fire safety equipment as well as new HVAC in the building. Lehr said the building wasn’t even insulated.
He said the “lion’s share” of the work has already been done in the 190,000-square-foot building kitty corner from the Nevada Legislature.
Lehr said in that interview he now understands why in Las Vegas, they blow up old casinos instead of trying to rehabilitate them.
Despite being closed, the building location is grandfathered in for a non-restricted gaming license despite no longer having enough rooms to qualify under city ordinance. That’s because the Ormsby Club located in the attached parking garage has kept the old license alive by continuing to offer gaming to patrons.
One reason the owners may have decided to put the Ormsby House up for sale now is their city building permit expires next month. That means they would have to appear before the Board of Supervisors to ask for an extension and, if the board refused, they would have to get a new permit.
The Ormsby House opened in 1972, owned by former governor and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt. He later sold it to Woody Loftin of Hawthorne who operated it until his death in 1985. After that, his son Truett took over but the hotel-casino was forced into bankruptcy court in 1990. It was closed from 1993 until 1995 when Barry Silverton bought it but was back into bankruptcy again by 1997.
At that point, the bankruptcy court appointed longtime northern Nevada gaming operator Bob Cashell, future mayor of Reno and owner of the Topaz Lodge in Douglas County, to run the place.
Lehr and Fiegehen bought it two years later.
Neither Lehr or Fiegehen could be reached for this story but daughter-in-law Kim Fiegehen confirmed the property is up for sale. She didn’t know the asking price.
The original Ormsby House was built in 1860 by Maj. William Ormsby. Laxalt named his hotel the Ormsby House in honor of his parents who bought the original building in the early 1900s and operated it as a boarding house just three blocks north of the current structure.