Wrecking ball destined for Lake Park | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wrecking ball destined for Lake Park

Gregory Crofton, Tribune staff writer

It’s time to get out.

Almost.

Residents of a 38-unit apartment building at Stateline got wind Tuesday that they must move out by the end of March.

“The landlord said maybe it would be two years,” said Eugene Roberts, 43, who began renting a Lake Park Apartment on Kahle Drive with his fiancee last July. “We expected a little time. We’re living paycheck to paycheck anyway, so it’s going to be hard trying to come up with a lump sum of money.”

Lake Park residents have lived in limbo since Falcon Capital, a Round Hill development company, bought the property and the five buildings in 2000. Since then, three of the five buildings have been demolished, and two are expected to be torn down this spring and late summer.

Lake Park No. 1, where Roberts lives, will be gone by April to make way for a 30-unit affordable housing project called Meadowbrook. Lake Park No. 3 will likely be demolished by late August, said Kevin Lane, project manager at Falcon.

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Apartment No. 3 will make way for a $1 million water treatment system to be installed by Douglas County. The environmental improvement work was required by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Because of the uncertain living conditions, tenants at the complex prior to 2000 got some financial breaks, but other tenants who moved in knowing the wrecking ball was on its way are being asked to pay March rent and be out 31 days later.

Lane said the challenges that come with developing land at Lake Tahoe Basin do not allow Falcon to set demolition dates farther in advance.

But, he said, Falcon will try to get deposits back to tenants in a shorter time than the 30 days they are allowed by law, and it will delay the destruction of Lake Park No. 3 as long as it can to avoid flooding the housing market.

“We’ll delay it, probably after summer if possible,” Lane said. “It will disperse less people into the community at once. We don’t want to put anybody out in street.”

Roberts, a night auditor at Super 8 Motel and a South Shore resident for 12 years, said he has some housing leads he plans to follow up on. He hopes to be able to move out of Lake Park before the end of the month.

Prior to living at Lake Park, he and his 28-year-old fiancee, Wendy, lived at a motel.

“I work graveyard and she works days,” Roberts said. “(A motel) is too small, just closed in. All you have is a bathroom and that’s not good.”

Roberts says the South Shore is becoming too expensive of a place to live and feels as though he and others like him are being run out of Tahoe.

Falcon is in the process of removing housing for lower income families, but is also mandated by the TRPA to replace what they remove. Last January, Falcon opened the 64-unit Lake Vista complex on Kingsbury Grade, which is operating at capacity.

“It’s running very well,” Lane said. “It took a while to fill up because the paperwork is intensive, but once we got it all filled it’s been wonderful.”

Lane said people displaced from Lake Park who are eligible for affordable housing will be considered for Meadowbrook. Lake Vista has a long waiting list and families on it will also be given priority if they are eligible to live in Meadowbrook, according to Lew Feldman, an attorney who represents Falcon.

Meadowbrook will consist of 18 three-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom units. It is expected to cost $4.5 million to build and could be open by spring 2004.

To compensate for the razing of Lake Park, the TRPA has required Falcon to replace the lower-income housing with 134 units of affordable housing in Douglas County or the city of South Lake Tahoe.

The Meadowbrook apartments, combined with Lake Vista, still leaves Falcon 40 affordable housing units in the hole. Falcon, representing a group of landowners from Incline Village, is considering 18 acres near Burke Creek as another possible site for affordable housing.

When the phased demolition of the Lake Park Apartment complex began in 2000, the effects were apparent, according to Rick Kester, director of business services for the Douglas County School District.

For example, before Falcon bought the complex, the district had 140 students who lived in the complex and attended the three Douglas County schools at the lake. Over the past two years, with the subsequent demolition of three buildings and other factors such as the economy, 104 students have left the district.

“We don’t think it’s a coincidence that we lost the students from what’s happened,” Kester said. “I think the closing of the complex has had an impact in terms of enrollment.”

The district has no way of knowing how many students are occupants of the latest building coming down, but the chances are good that some of them attend one of the three lake schools, Kester said.

“Clearly, when it’s fully closed, there will be 140 students that had to go somewhere else,” Kester said. “It is unlikely that they will have gone to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.”

Zephyr Cove Elementary School Principal Chris Perdomo said she too is concerned that students will be forced to leave the district because of the demolition and the lack of affordable housing on the Nevada side.

“I worry about it very much,” Perdomo said. “If you shut or close down affordable housing there’s no place to move to. You will lose students to the valley or to South Lake Tahoe.”

— Jeff Munson and William Ferchland contributed to this report.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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