Heavenly official unsure Park project will start on time | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly official unsure Park project will start on time

Michael Schneider

A high-ranking Heavenly Ski Resort official hinted at a public meeting that construction of a gondola and hotel, as part of the Park Avenue Project, won’t occur on schedule.

The city of South Lake Tahoe along with its main private partner Heavenly owner American Skiing Corp., plan to break ground on the Park Avenue Project next spring. At Tuesday’s South Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Agency, resort vice president Stan Hansen told the agency it was not a certainty ASC would be ready to proceed next year.

At Thursday’s Douglas Commission meeting, Dennis Harmon, Heavenly’s president, told commissioners it is far from a guarantee the project will begin as scheduled.

“A lot of things have to fall our way to break ground next year,” Harmon said. “It’s not a certainty.”

American Ski has plans to build the Grand Summit, a quarter-share project in the Park Avenue area. Also planned for next year was a gondola leading from Park Avenue to the ski resort.

The city had planned to build the entire Park Avenue Project next year, which includes a movie theater, an ice rink, a new Lake Tahoe Inn and several other new buildings. Those plans were junked last month as project proponents met with city officials and decided to do the project in phases.

The first phase was to include the gondola and Grand Summit.

Giving the commission some good news, Harmon did say this year will see Heavenly expend more money for capital improvements that it has since he’s been with the resort.

Plans are finalized for the replacement of ski lifts, lodges snowmaking machines and the addition of some new ski trails.

The plans also include a day care center at the California base lodge.

Harmon said this past skiing year was the best Heavenly has ever had, with 45,000 more skier visits than its previous best. He said, after this latest round of resort expansion is complete, no more should be expected for at least five years.

Should ASC be able to proceed with plans to build the gondola next year, Harmon said he expected the benefits to be seen more in the summer than during the ski season.

“We’ll have buildings at the top of the mountain (where the gondola leads to),” Harmon said. “We’ll have restaurants and possibly concerts under the stars up there.

“Most of the growth with the Park Avenue Project will be with summer visits due to the great location, not skiing.”

Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who works at the state line Raley’s, agreed with Harmon, saying he knew of people who didn’t know the tramway to Heavenly was open during the summer.

“But with a gondola downtown…” Weissinger said, hinting at the possibilities.

Whether or not the project will begin next summer will likely be known by October when the Disposition and Development Agreement for the Park Avenue Project is to be unveiled.

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

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