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October 18, 2012
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Alta Mira purchase stalled

The Alta Mira building is here to stay, at least for the time being.

The California Tahoe Conservancy's board authorized staff to pursue a $10,000 option on the building located near the eastern end of El Dorado Beach at 3339 Lake Tahoe Blvd. in May, but efforts to exercise that option have stalled, CTC land acquisition specialist Bruce Eisner said.

"It hasn't happened as quickly as we all anticipated, but once the option is in place, we'll continue with fundraising," Eisner said.

All six of the building's owners need to be in agreement to sell the property, but according to Eisner, one of the owners is requesting more information about the cost of land cleanup.

There was a heating oil spill in 1995 at the property, and, while the majority of the contaminants were cleaned up, some might still remain under the building, Eisner said. The owners would be responsible for the total cost of cleanup and demolition of the building before the Conservancy would take control of the .55 acre parcel.

"Our requirement is that any soil contamination be cleaned up before escrow closes. So I believe they're looking into what that might cost. The owners are doing their own due diligence," Eisner said.

If the owners come to an agreement regarding the option, the Conservancy would have the right to purchase the property for $2.5 million within 18 months. If the purchase is finalized, the building would be torn down to accommodate up to 190 feet of additional lakefront.

As the owners outline further details of the sale, Eisner said the Conservancy, which would contribute $2 million toward purchase of the building, has stopped actively fundraising. The Tahoe Fund, which could contribute the additional $500,000, has also stalled fundraising efforts, CEO Amy Berry said.

According to the fund's website, the acquisition would increase open space, improve public beach access, reduce runoff to the lake and allow for the extension of the existing bike path.

"Opening up more access to the lake is what we're trying to achieve," Berry said.

For some of the South Lake Tahoe businesses that rent spaces in the Alta Mira building, the uncertainty and possible sale has prompted thoughts of relocating to Nevada.

Tom Deputy opened his businesses, Reflection Eyewear, about 30 years ago in the South Shore property. He said he doesn't want to leave South Lake Tahoe, but if the sale goes through, he thinks he might relocate out of the basin.

"It's a possibility I might move to Nevada. I really don't want to, mainly because the town needs the services I provide. We were told if we were going to be forced out, we would be compensated. That's not the case now," Deputy said.

Jacque Proulx with JP and Company, Inc. said she has a business license that allows her to move to Nevada if she needs to. She moved to Alta Mira in 2006, and said she doesn't think the Conservancy is helping the town by purchasing the building.

"I'll do whatever I have to do to find a good office. I just think that the Conservancy isn't doing anyone any favors buying this building. You're spending $2.5 million for a postage-stamp piece of land? It doesn't seem sensible and you're running off small businesses," Proulx said.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 18, 2012 07:24PM Published Oct 18, 2012 07:22PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.