Tahoe Transportation District: Potential for construction of 200 housing units or more with US 50 Project | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Transportation District: Potential for construction of 200 housing units or more with US 50 Project

The U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project seeks to redirect traffic around the casino corridor and replace the housing units they tear down for the project with new properties.

There is now the potential for 200 or more units of housing to be created in conjunction with the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project, according to Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) officials.

As TTD waits for a handful of federal and state agencies to sign off on the draft environmental document for the project — which is expected to happen next week after months of delays — district manager Carl Hasty revealed that three development firms have expressed interest in building housing beyond the minimum commitment the agency has already made.

The U.S. 50 Project seeks to realign the highway around the casino corridor to create a more walkable downtown area. TTD has committed to replacing the 78 units of housing that would be acquired and torn down in that process. Of those units, 55 would be deed-restricted affordable housing, while the other 23 have yet to be determined.

But as partnerships between other agencies and private sector firms are emerging, that number could be a lot higher, Hasty told his board at an April 14 meeting.

“We are committed to replacing the housing in the project area, but these other opportunities have presented themselves.” Carl Hasty, TTD district manager

According to Hasty, Domus Development, the firm behind the 77-units of affordable housing in Kings Beach; Neighborhood Partners, LLC; and UHC Communities have all expressed interest in developing housing — some on the project site, but also on California Tahoe Conservancy asset lands down by the Y.

One proposal expressed interest in developing 120 units down by the Y, while another saw the potential for 142 units on the proposed project site.

"We are looking into the possibility of developing on both sites," Hasty told the Tribune. "We are committed to replacing the housing in the project area, but these other opportunities have presented themselves."

TTD is currently in conversation with the California Tahoe Conservancy on acquiring or leasing those asset lands by the Y for development. These developable areas were also included in the draft environmental analysis that is awaiting approval.

Hasty noted that in addition to committing to no net loss on housing in the U.S. 50 Project, TTD has also made a public declaration to be a "public proactive advocate for transit-oriented development." Development of additional housing by the Y with a yet-undecided transit component would fall under this umbrella.

Because of the interest from the private sector in developing additional housing alongside the U.S. 50 Project, TTD has partnered with the city of South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to hire an individual or firm to assist in bridging the gap between the private and public sectors in these housing development deals. El Dorado County is another potential partner that could share this asset, which Hasty said they would likely keep on for a couple of years to aid in other public-private partnerships for development projects.

Hasty said he was "very glad" to see the positive reception from the private sector in these projects.

El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel, who sits on the TTD board, noted in the meeting that her housing task force had come to a similar conclusion — that public-private partnerships were the key to making headway in the housing crisis.

"I think there's a great need for public-private collaboration. … They can't do it on their own. They need help," said Novasel.