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Apartment complex could get upgrade

One of the largest and oldest apartment complexes in the city of South Lake Tahoe may be in line for upgrades.

The 92-unit Chateau Bijou on Spruce Avenue is one of the five government-assisted affordable housing projects in the city. It is also for sale.

Developers Stephen Mattoon and Scott Lefaver are interested in buying the complex from owner Arnold Alves, who has been trying to sell the property during the last few years.



The partners have a plan to make more than $1 million, or about $12,000 per unit, in improvements.

A list of renovations are in order for the complex which was built in 1971. Among them, new carpet, updated bathroom fixtures and a fresh coat of interior and exterior paint are projected if the sale goes through.



It’s a welcome plan for Patrick Conway, the city economic development and housing coordinator, especially after a 1993 city report revealed that almost 40 percent of the city’s housing is rated as substandard or in need of repair.

“It would bring an existing project that is fairly old into more updated living conditions,” he said.

The upgrades may come as part of a federal tax credit and bond financing program.

Mattoon and Lefaver have asked the city to enter the Association of Bay Area Governments to potentially allow the issue of tax-exempt bonds for the project, also making the group eligible for a low-income housing tax credit under the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Without the city’s joining the association, the pair cannot pursue the money-saving options. Joining requires the Council to participate in one teleconference meeting per year.

The City Council was introduced to the project for the first time Tuesday.

Councilmembers Brooke Laine and Bill Crawford, who also serve on the city’s substandard housing subcommittee, gave the project a warm reception after it was determined that the city wouldn’t be held liable for the repayment of the bonds.

“The city will not be involved in any expenditures, and it doesn’t cost any money for the city to be involved in this group,” Crawford said. “This is the oldest of the public housing projects and it’s due for renovation.”

Laine said she initially questioned the possibility of rent inflation but was convinced by Mattoon and Lafaver that there would be no change.

“They assured (the Council) that renovation would have no effect on the tenants’ rent,” she said.

They also said the tenants wouldn’t be inconvenienced by the construction which could start this summer if the council approves the move to join the association.

A public hearing and action is schedule for March.

“I’m expecting a favorable response to this project,” Laine said.

Laine described the company’s record of rehabilitating other affordable housing projects in about 10 California cities as impressive.


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