Changes in the works at the ‘Y’ |

Changes in the works at the ‘Y’

Susan Wood

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune New curbs are being installed at the Factory Stores at the Y as part of improvements at the shopping center.

Showing how much is riding on revamping South Lake Tahoe’s west end, changes at the “Y” may have reached a bit of a turning point.

Among the latest proposed rotations of businesses, tire giant Les Schwab is interested in moving into the Lake Tahoe Auto Village site. And Raley’s and the Factory Stores at the Y have gone forward with their improvements.

The tire-store chain has eyed the South Shore for a while, but the recent opportunity off Lake Tahoe Boulevard may present the best way for the Prineville, Ore.-based company to get out of retrofitting a building. It’s unknown when a store opening would happen as a transaction has yet to be finalized, and phone calls to Lake Tahoe Auto Village management were unreturned.

“It would be a good fit for us. I’m confident (about the move),” said Mike Oxman, a real estate manager who hopes to secure the deal soon. The 50-year-old, family-owned operation – known for its employees who sprint on showroom floors and sales incentives such as cuts of beef from the family’s ranch with the purchase of a set of steel-belted radials – has opened 386 locations in six states.

The company is attracted to the lake’s bustling population over the weekends when visitors can quadruple the number of people on the road, Oxman said.

But Big O Tire Manager Chris Herrera expressed a different view of the possible addition to a market that already has four tire shops – his, Lilly’s, Ken’s and Tires Plus.

Recommended Stories For You

Herrera said he was prepared to buy Big O Tire from the Carson City owner before learning Les Schwab was exploring the dealer lot.

“I expect my business to drop in half. We’re not as big. They could kill me, if not a few other tire stores too,” he said.

The argument sounded like dialogue from the days when Staples and the former Office Depot shared the same quarter-mile section of town.

Business at the “Y” has received the attention of many residents over the years – including the recent building of Pier 1 Imports. Construction of the 10,000-square-foot structure remains on track to be completed by November.

General Contractor Greg Williams of KW Western expects to have the roof on in a few weeks. Workers said pedestrians come by every day to check on the progress of the housewares chain.

A citizen’s group tasked with driving development at the “Y” has been working with the city on a plan for the up-and-coming area. The city hired Design Workshop for $15,390 to create a plan for development after signing off on the group’s overall vision.

“A lot of people want to invest here,” City Manager Dave Jinkens said.

Shopping centers on the move

Raley’s, a primary retailer in the “Y” area, has major plans of its own. The Sacramento-based grocery chain plans to take over five spaces between its store and Kmart where Clothestime, Curves, Payless Shoes, Connie’s Clothesline and Paradise Beauty once stood. The latter moved around the corner near Pet Supermarket.

According to Raley’s spokeswoman Jennifer Ortega, the supermarket will bring in a new food section like that of its Village Center store near Stateline. Ortega added the grocer would like to improve the parking lot. There’s no timeline or estimated cost to expand.

“I think if they match the store they have at Stateline it would be a good thing,” said Jim Meredith of First Commercial Properties, the company that manages the shopping center. “The city made the other side of town a tourism destination. “What we’re trying to do on this end is keep the locals.”

Shannon Casteel, who runs the Factory Stores at the Y, has also made plans to spruce up her shopping center. The center has a new coat of exterior paint, landscaping, 2,000 feet of curb and should have a new roof in September – a project already estimated to cost $500,000. Casteel also intends to put out picnic tables and benches this year.

“I think the males enjoy them while the women are shopping,” Curtis Culbertson of Salida said, while sitting on one of the benches on the sidewalk.

By next summer, a Victorian facade emulating the Western era will go up.

Across Highway 50, Big 5 Sporting Goods remains interested in the site where Mikasa was once located, according to Big 5 spokesman Rick Gridley.