Demolition begins at Knights Inn, making way for Whole Foods 365 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Demolition begins at Knights Inn, making way for Whole Foods 365

Demolition of the Knights Inn is underway, kicking off construction of the Bijou Marketplace.

On Monday, Aug. 7, the city of South Lake Tahoe hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future development, located at the corner of U.S. 50 and Ski Run Boulevard.

As part of the ceremony, attendees watched as a large excavator tore down the front section of the Knights Inn.

"Now when our locals and our visitors come down Highway 50, the gateway to Heavenly for many of those people will be brand new, anchored by Whole Foods 365 and whatever retail businesses that Halferty Development puts in here," said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass at the event.

"I'll tell you what: Things are about as good in Tahoe as they've been in a long time … Everywhere you turn there is construction, rehabilitation, gentrification."

After four years of working toward a deal, Chris Peto, chief operating officer of Halferty Development, said the company is "excited to be here."

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"We plan to be completed by the end of next year. Our focus has been on the grocery side of it, and [Whole Foods 365] is our only executed lease right now, but we're working on the other tenants," said Peto. "We have interest in almost all of the other spaces. We expect to have those deals finalized in the next 60 days."

Adam Smith, executive coordinator of design and construction for Whole Foods, attended the groundbreaking.

"We have been wanting to be a member of the community here in the Lake Tahoe area for many, many years, and we're very excited that Whole Foods Market 365 will have one of the first stores in the country right here in Tahoe," said Smith.

Smith said he sees a lot of potential for partnerships between Whole Food's lower-priced store and the South Lake Tahoe community.

Former mayor and councilmember Hal Cole also spoke at the ceremony for the project that he worked on for many years before deciding to retire from politics last year.

Cole pointed to the environmental benefits of the project, which will daylight Bijou Park Creek and reduce the amount of fine sediment that is currently dumped into the lake through a water pipe.

Cole credited City Manager Nancy Kerry and her "tenacity" for keeping the project alive despite hurdles in the sale of the Knights Inn.

"Everybody else has had a little piece of it, but from the beginning to the end Nancy Kerry deserves all the credit," said Cole.

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