California Tahoe Conservancy approved a $2.5 million purchase of the nearly 1-acre lakefront Alta Mira property on Monday.
In acquiring the property, the conservancy hopes to build on success of the neighboring Lakeview Commons project by further improving lake access and scenery on Tahoe’s South Shore.
“We think it’s a critical piece of lakefront, beginning with the Harrison Avenue project and stretching all the way to Alta Mira, that can really be made a showcase for South Lake Tahoe,” said Patrick Wright, executive director of California Tahoe Conservancy.
As part of the sale, the owner of Alta Mira must demolish a 5,400-square-foot building on the property and remove a buried fuel tank as well as any contaminated soil that might be found.
Stairs running down a bluff to the lake behind the building also will be removed, with fencing put up to keep the public out while the conservancy develops a plan for the property.
Approving the purchase, conservancy board members said they consider the Alta Mira project a top priority. The property is located on the lake just east of El Dorado Beach at Lakeview Commons, a site the conservancy bought and redeveloped into a popular public beach access in a $6.8 million project.
“This is such a valuable property, the worst thing we can do is buy it and let it sit,” said Tom Davis, South Lake Tahoe’s representative on the conservancy board. “We want to keep this on the front burner. It just completes that whole Lakeview Commons corridor all the way down.”
Demolition of the Alta Mira building should start in September and be finished in October. The purchase price includes up to $321,000 for closing costs and relocation assistance for six commercial tenants and two residential tenants in the building.
The California State Lands Commission has agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the purchase in exchange for ownership in part of the property, which would then be leased back to the conservancy for 49 years for the conservancy to manage. The lands commission must vote to finalize its contribution in June.
“Probably as soon as we acquire the title we will immediately start talking to the city, to our nonprofit partners and to folks who might be interested in helping us with the vision for this new parcel,” Wright said.
The Alta Mira purchase follows a purchase of two commercial properties near the “Y” intersection in South Lake Tahoe that the conservancy board approved Friday. Those purchases totaled $645,000.
California Tahoe Conservancy is buying the South “Y” Lodge at 1120 Emerald Bay Road. The 0.84 acre property includes a manager residence and nine motel units. The property has more than 14,400 square feet of building and pavement coverage that will be razed and restored to open space.
The conservancy also is buying a half-acre property at 2122 Lake Tahoe Boulevard. It has 7,750 square feet of building and pavement coverage that will be razed and restored to open space. Tenants on the property include Tahoe Psychic and Heads Up Smoke Shop.
The purchases are part of a California Tahoe Conservancy initiative to refocus its acquisitions on run-down commercial properties in wetlands or on the lake.
The goal is to remove blight, provide open space and improve water quality and public lake access. Another goal is to bank development rights from the demolished properties, potentially making them available for future use in town centers in local area plans that are being created as part of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s new regional plan update.
“There are a tremendous number of benefits we might get from these projects. So hopefully this will be just the first wave of acquisitions in the city to help achieve those benefits,” Wright said.