Naviganteto pull out of downtown

May 15, 2007 5:35 AM

By GT STAFF

The Navegante Group announced last week it would be relinquishing its management of four downtown hotel/casinos owned by the Tamares Group.

The properties, which were once owned by Jackie Gaughan, include the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike and Western Hotel.

Collectively, those properties include 1,600 hotel rooms, 2,400 slot machines, 51 table games and employs about 1,600 people.

Larry Woolf, chairman of the Navegante Group, said his company did a good job improving operations, but that Tamares needed a business partner with capital to invest rather than a property manager.

"The bottom line is that by working together, employees, managers and our executives were responsible for a rapid and dramatic turnaround, taking the properties from major losses to positive cash flow in very short order," Woolf said.

Navegante took on the management of the casinos in December 2005. Since then it instituted cost-cutting measures, renegotiated vendor contracts and replaced outdated slot machines.

Woolf added that Navegante would continue to manage the properties until Tamares found a new operator, who would need to be approved by Nevada regulators.

"We have been working with Larry and Navegante since July of 2005 to develop a business plan and operate our downtown properties," said Kenneth Landfield, chief operating officer of Tamares U.S. Real Estate. "They ”¦ have been excellent business partners during that time. We appreciate their efforts and support during this transition."

The Tamares Group, which is based in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, is a private investment company with worldwide interests in real estate and finance. It purchased the downtown properties in March 2004 and instantly became downtown’s largest private land owner.