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Business owners left dangling through Parp project delays

by Sally J. Taylor

Small business owners from Park Avenue almost to the state line have, for many years, felt out of the loop as big developers and city officials decide their fate.

Along with other business leaders in the community, they’re excited about the potential of Park Avenue Redevelopment to revitalize the economy if the South Shore. But for them, the wait has been particularly frustrating as the deadline for the project has been repeatedly pushed back and rumors of disaster take flight.

“They keep saying redevelopment is next year, next year, next year,” said Scott Vane, owner of the Tee-Shirt Shop Etc. on Park Avenue.

City officials and developers met Tuesday to discuss the details of the project, which they hope will break ground May 1, 1999.

Redevelopment Manager Jaye Von Klug had hoped, following the meeting, to provide business owners with a solid timeline later this week. Instead, with the recent addition of Trilogy Development Corporation, the timeline must wait a couple more weeks.

“It’s hard to plan your life and invest in your business (when you don’t know what you’ll be doing next year),” Vane said. “You’ve got to do that or you’re dead in the water.”

Vane wants to purchase embroidery equipment to keep up with the industry but doesn’t know where he’ll be in a year. He hasn’t known that for several years.

“If I’m out in a year, it’s hard to invest $40,000 years in an embroidery machine,” Vane said.

Vane has watched his business decline as the economy in general has declined on the South Shore. He used to have two employees. He’s worked on his own since 1992.

“I’ve hung on anticipating getting into the redevelopment (area),” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I’d probably do something else (other than retail).

“These people here work six, seven days a week just to make rent.”

Bob Canilao, owner of Bill’s Barber Shop in the next building down the street, is also hanging on hoping to move into a new space in the project.

“When it’s finished, it’s going to be nice,” Canilao said Tuesday as he snipped the hair of a regular customer from Canada, one of many loyal clients.

Canilao has been cutting hair for 13 years at the shop on Park Avenue, one of the oldest retail centers in town. A glass ceiling over a central garden courtyard in the center is a reminder of a classier time. The numerous cracked panes is a reminder of the age of the structure and the fact that it’s days are numbered.

“There’s no use (complaining), as long as I have a place to work,” he said, joking that he could set up an umbrella in the Crescent V Fashion Center and plug into electricity at Sizzler’s.

John Stofanik, owner of Monk’s Pizza and Grill is ready to call it quits. He’s been ready for years as he’s watched the economy decline.

“Tahoe really needs to get this (redevelopment) going,” he said. “I never had a down year before ’91. I never had an up year since.”

Stofanik is hoping for a buyout. He wants to buy a boat and take to the ocean.

“I want to travel around the world then see if I want to come back (to Tahoe).”

For now, he’s stuck. Locals and pizza chains have looked at the business, which once employed seven people.

“No one wants to buy it because of redevelopment,” he said. “Stuff can happen. I’ve seen it happen at every phase of this. There’s always something.

Von Klug and other officials also want to see redevelopment progress.

“I do understand how frustrating it is,” Von Klug said late Tuesday. “I believe we’ll have it resolved in the next couple weeks. We haven’t forgotten (the business owners). We just haven’t known what to tell them.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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