TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The lights of many businesses in the Lighthouse Center will soon go out — at least temporarily.
Seven businesses within the Tahoe City shopping center will have to vacate the premises for roughly a year once work begins as early as May on a more than $1 million renovation project that includes a new roof, utility replacement and ADA upgrades.
“It’s just kind of a raw deal,” said Sandi Tibbles, owner of Tahoe City’s Scraps Dog Bakery, one of the businesses to be affected. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
The post office and Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate — both of which have undergone recent upgrades — are exempt, as are Safeway and CVS pharmacy, properties not owned by Austin, Texas-based Schlosser Development Corporation.
“It’s unfortunate ... but it’s been put off for 50 years,” said Paul Gaddis, project manager at Schlosser Development, which acquired the Lighthouse Center from Safeway in January 2011. “If the building is to continue to function, it just has to be done.”
Steve Hanson, co-owner of Video Stop with his wife, Sara, said while he understands the need for updates, it doesn’t make the situation any easier.
“It’s devastating,” he said. “We’ve run a good business for profit for 15 years. … It’s one thing to be chased out because you’re not making money or can’t pay your bills, but we’ve been doing that for 15 years.”
Hanson said he and his wife have been looking for places in Tahoe City to relocate, but finding an affordable, accessible space is a challenge.
“If we ... moved to another place, I’m not sure if we could make a profit,” Hanson said. “So the other option — which we will probably do, actually — is a going-out-of-business sale.”
Once the project is complete, affected businesses can return, Gaddis said. It’s unknown what new rents will be, he said, although they will be impacted by renovation costs and other factors.
“We would love for everyone to move back in, but we realize that’s an individual business decision,” Gaddis said.
The impact extends beyond that, Tibbles said.
“I’ve got local people who work for me, and (so) it impacts more than just the owners of the stores,” she said.
Since the center already has several vacancies, now is the time for renovations, Gaddis said.
For the past three years, most businesses there have not been able to secure a lease, reportedly due to Schlosser trying to assess what work the center needs.
Tibbles said that in December 2013, Schlosser representatives visited Lighthouse businesses and informed them improvements would be done this year, but didn’t indicate businesses would need to vacate.
“I am old enough that I’ve seen a lot of unfairness in my life, and we’ve been through it in business ... but it always shocks me still that people can be that way,” she said.
Other businesses owners, however, said they were well-informed.
“The landlords were very up front about it,” said Picnic owner Syd Earley, whose last day is Feb. 14 with no plans of reopening the eatery elsewhere. “This was not a surprise. ... I just didn’t think it would happen as quick as it did.”
To help affected business, February will likely be the last month they will be charged rent while they search and try to secure new locations, Gaddis said.
“We wish them all the best,” he said.
“I am old enough that I’ve seen a lot of unfairness in my life, and we’ve been through it in business ... but it always shocks me still that people can be that way.”
owner, Tahoe City’s Scraps Dog Bakery