City puts money toward Park Avenue Project
Although it does not yet have a final agreement from its primary investor, the city of South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday put $15,000 into the Park Avenue Project.
The city’s total contribution of $446,000 to the planning portion of the state line-area redevelopment undertaking was delayed for two weeks at the request of project attorney Lew Feldman.
American Ski Corp., which owns Heavenly Ski Resort, has acquired the rights to develop a hotel and quarter-share as part of the Park Avenue Project. ASC also plans to build a gondola from Park Avenue to Heavenly.
Instead of the entire $446,000, Feldman asked the agency, which consists of the City Council, to contribute $15,000, so, should American Ski have its ducks in a row in two weeks, the project can proceed as planned.
Without the $15,000 the project probably would not begin on time, according to Feldman.
The project is scheduled to start next spring.
“A certain amount of work needs to be ongoing,” Feldman said.
Council member Margo Osti said she was not comfortable with the agreement.
Osti noted a a similar request from Feldman – who also represents Project 3, a redevelopment across the highway from the Park Avenue Project – when he asked the council for $10,000 for a drainage study for Project 3. She said she didn’t like the precedent of contributing funds to a public/private project when there is no Disposition and Development Agreement.
Feldman said the DDA would be ready in October.
“We have no partner and no DDA, and now you’re asking us for more money?” Osti said to Feldman.
“To say there is no commitment from the private sector is unfair,” Feldman responded.
Stan Hansen, vice president of Heavenly, said ASC has already contributed about $4 million to the project. Additionally, he said his company has entered into an agreement with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to begin building in 1999.
“The commitment was made when American Ski purchased Heavenly,” Hansen said.
“Considering the amount of money put up on your side, this is nothing,” Council member Judy Brown said to Hansen of the $15,000.
Council candidate Bill Crawford, who attended the meeting, told Brown to advance the money to the city if she felt it was nothing.
“This is bad business practice to advance money to a developer when you have no agreement,” Crawford said. “To do this with public funds is shameful.”
Agency chairman Kevin Cole, an ardent supporter of city redevelopment, warned the agency must keep in mind the overall goals and not worry about each item before them.
“Don’t sacrifice our goal for the community because we get bogged down in details,” he said. “We’ve been criticized this project is taking too long. This is a way to speed it up.”
The vote was 3-1 in favor of the $15,000 allocation with Osti voting against it.
Mayor Hal Cole abstaining due to a possible conflict of interest. Cole said he contracted Feldman recently for private work.
City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo said there was not likely a conflict of interest, but wanted to research the issue further before giving Hal Cole the green light to sit on the agency board when Feldman is involved.
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