Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue … | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue …

Although still without the major financing needed for the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project, city officials are continuing to push for a 1998 ground-breaking.

“In the coming weeks we will be trying to figure out how the private financing will come together,” said Kerry Miller, city manager. “Until that comes together, we won’t be in the position to start the public bond process.”

The roughly $200 million Park Avenue redevelopment will feature a 200-unit time-share complex, 500-room deluxe hotel, a gondola stretching from the casino core to Heavenly Ski Resort, a remodeled commercial center and an eight-plex movie theater.

The project has gone through all of the necessary government approvals, and now only one question remains – how are they going to make it happen financially?

According to Miller, it’s a matter of the four primary owner-participants negotiating with investors to finance their individual projects. The owner-participants are HKM and the Lake Tahoe Inn, Heavenly Ski Resort, Tahoe Crescent Partnership, Ltd. and Trans-Sierra Investment.

While rumors circulating around town have suggested that the project is on the rocks, redevelopment officials insist that it is secure.

“Park Avenue is making enormous progress in arranging the financing for the various components,” said Lew Feldman, project attorney. “We are moving at a faster pace than we ever were before.”

He estimates that the involved parties are not far from closing a deal.

However, due to the sensitivity of the situation, Feldman could not disclose details of the negotiations.

Judith Von Klug, redevelopment manager, said while there may be some changes in the specifics of the financing, she is sure that the project is solid.

“I am absolutely confident it’s not falling apart,” Von Klug said. “There are some shifts going on, but they are positive. A lot of people want to get into the project.”

She said those shifts include which developer will participate in the 200-unit Park Place Plaza time share.

All Seasons Resort was originally going to develop the project before the company was bought out by Signature Resorts, Inc. in October.

Whether Signature will develop the time-share complex is still unknown, said Lawdy Flanagan, company vice president and general manager of the Embassy Vacation Resort.

“We will take a look at the opportunities as they are presented, and evaluate each one individually,” he said. “It is not a yes or a no at this point.”

However, both Miller and Von Klug said they are not worried about finding a developer for that part of the project.

“We have at least three other companies just as strong or stronger who would love to do it,” Von Klug said.

Other issues that have come up are related to the Lake Tahoe Inn, whose three owners are still in the process of negotiating with a fourth partner and developer for their 500-unit hotel.

Negotiations for that portion of the project have been especially touchy, Miller said, primarily due to the nature of today’s financial market.

“It’s such a huge project, and it’s difficult to secure financing for a hotel,” he said. “It’s strange in the financial market, but since the late 1980s, it doesn’t matter how great a project is, it has been very difficult. But it’s doable.”

Rumors have also flown questioning whether the owner-participants of that project will back out.

“The Lake Tahoe Inn is still participating,” Von Klug said.

She said the owners signed on to the project more for the good of the community than their own desire to develop a new hotel, which is why a possibility exists for them to be bought out.

“Probably what happened is somehow the fact that a developer partner will probably in the future buy them out somehow turned into, ‘they’re bailing.'”

The Park Avenue project was originally scheduled to break ground this year and be completed over the 1998 building season. But Von Klug said it would have been difficult to make that deadline even without any financing problems.

“A lot of things don’t get finalized until you get project approval, and that just happened in November,” she said. “Now each party is looking to finalize the details.”

She is confident the city will be able to start work by this time next year.

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