South Lake Tahoe is buying two vacant lots at the southwest corner of Ski Run and Lake Tahoe boulevards, and will offer the land for sale, potentially with commercial floor area or tourist accommodation units, in an effort to promote economic development at the site.
City Council unanimously supported the $800,000 purchase Tuesday.
The city will buy the land, totaling about 1.5 acres, from the South Tahoe Redevelopment Successor Agency, which is required by California law to sell its assets following the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies. Other land owned by the successor agency is still being appraised for fair market value.
Councilor Angela Swanson said the property on Ski Run Boulevard, known as the “Southwest Corner Parcels,” is full of opportunity and needs to be put to its highest and best use.
“It’s the last great undeveloped piece of property in the city,” Swanson said. “Some people don’t want to see another drug store, another fast food place, another hotel-motel. So if we’re loading in commodities and doing it, I want a process that really aspires to us using this premiere site for a premiere project.”
Under ownership of the South Tahoe Redevelopment Successor Agency, the property was a hard sell because any sale required the approval of that agency as well as an oversight board and the California Department of Finance, City Manager Nancy Kerry said.
“That was not helpful to investors and community attraction of capital. Council ownership would provide assurance that they could close escrow, which goes a long way toward expediting investment,” Kerry said.
“This property is a great piece of real estate and provides the council an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, those interested in investing, we welcome you.’ Let’s see what developers might still be interested in the property and what commodities they need.”
City Council will tap its $1.8 million in surplus general fund reserves to pay for the land. Any money recouped from the city’s sale of the property would go back into the general fund reserves, while money headed to the South Tahoe Redevelopment Successor Agency will be used to help pay off its debts.
Reimbursing the general fund reserves and marketing the property for sale as soon as possible was a key point for Councilor Tom Davis. “That’s critical to me because I still have a priority of fixing roads and things like that,” he said.
The vacant lots come with rights to 88 parking spaces in a nearby parking garage, Kerry said.
“I think this is a great move,” Councilor Brooke Laine said about the purchase. “I feel the city getting ownership allows us to package it in such a way to attract the kind of business we feel could do well there, as opposed to it just being on the open market, and finally, not having to go through hoops (for a sale). It’s a good deal all the way around.”