Businesses spared from wrecking ball |

Businesses spared from wrecking ball

The Cutting Edge Sports building, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and Pioneer Trail, has been spared destruction – but not spared the details.

The building, which is owned by Mike and Lori McKeen, Don Smith and Karen Whittingham, was originally slated for demolition if the Triangle Project were to materialize. Now the owners and the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency are working on a memorandum of understanding to keep the structure, but only if improvements are made to the building’s exterior.

Mike McKeen, who also owns the adjacent building that houses the Naked Fish and Alpen Sierra coffee house, said the plan was to tear down the sports shop and use the square footage for a restaurant building next to the proposed 120-room Hilton Garden Inn.

The success his tenants are experiencing have caused him and his business partners to have a change of heart and forego the restaurant opportunity.

“We completely rebuilt those two buildings – everything from the electrical to the heating and plumbing – and everyone’s successful and happy,” McKeen said.

Lewis Feldman, attorney for Tahoe Hospitality LLC, which holds the exclusive right to build the hotel should the project move forward, said the change is agreeable to his clients. They’d rather use the extra square footage that would have been used in the restaurant for part of the hotel.

The only other party to agree is the Redevelopment Agency.

Judith Von Klug, the city’s redevelopment manager, is drawing up the memorandum of understanding. She said some stipulations will be written into the clause.

“He’s certainly already improved that building and now that it’s going to stay we would like him to make additional improvements that would fit in with the rest of the project’s plans,” she said. “That could take a variety of forms but they are all cosmetic.”

City staff made a few suggestions such as revamping the building’s roof line and matching the property’s landscape with Park Avenue’s plans.

McKeen said he has no qualms about making the improvements and the only reason the upgrades weren’t as complete as the improvements made to his Naked Fish building is because he thought the structure was going to be razed.

McKeen and his partners won an award from the city of South Lake Tahoe for the best remodel design with the Naked Fish building. He also is the developer of the new, mountain-style Zahbuu clothing store on Harrison Avenue which opened this fall.

Beyond the McKeen properties, the Tahoe Bottle Shop at the apex of land that separates Highway 50 from Pioneer Trail is still on the list for demolition if the project happens.

“The original plan for the Triangle Project calls for the acquisition of that building and having some open space at the corner,” Von Klug said. “It would make a perfect place for a public art piece and a strip of green (landscaping) to carry over the continuity of Park Avenue’s landscaping.”

The 7-Eleven building between the proposed hotel site and McKeen’s property is scheduled to stay.

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