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Hotelier steps up

Susan Wood

A two-week deadline has been set for Marriott Resorts to move forward on a decade-old proposal to build a convention center near Stateline. And by that time, the project may not even include the landmark sought after for business tourism.

Marriott and its partners have until March 15 to tell the city’s Redevelopment Agency whether it will build or bail on its exclusive rights to a convention center. Marriott signed on last October for a nine-month feasibility study on the project. But the city is close to terminating that agreement because it hasn’t been kept in the loop of the hotelier’s plans.

In the meantime, Charlie McDermid of the Holiday Inn Express wants to develop 5 acres – about one fifth of the property – if the agreement with Marriott fails to materialize. He approached the council in a business suit and buffed-up shoes with his idea to “bulldoze” the area between Highway 50, Cedar, Friday and Poplar avenues and build a hotel-condominium project with high-end retail shops. There are no renderings yet or formal costs for the plan.



McDermid ironically used the Ritz Carlton – a hotel the Marriott has a controlling stake in – as an example of what he’d like to see in that area. He intends to go into the private enterprise with Ed Chen, a Tiburon judge who owns property in that area.

McDermid dangled property-tax and sales-tax dollars in front of the city, and the proposition raised eyebrows from the agency board members, who make up the City Council.



“I’m not here to damage Marriott,” he said.

After the meeting, Rick Edwards – who owns the Driftwood and Rainbow lodges – said he’d like to see the convention center built as he has for years because he’s waiting for a buyout.

“Anything to improve the area is good,” Edwards said. “My first choice is the convention center. Everything will be clear in two weeks,” he said.

And Harry Segal, who owns Sierra Shirts, said he’d be interested in talking to McDermid about his plans even though he’s listed as a negotiating party with Marriott.

“I think what Charlie brought forward is wonderful,” he said.

Some owners of property across from the Heavenly gondola have long waited for the long arm of redevelopment to either buy them out of a failing business or bring them into the fold.

The thinking from most involved is that Marriott’s proposal probably won’t have a 100,000-square-foot convention center. The company’s representing attorney, Lew Feldman, wouldn’t reveal their plans for the 16-acre wedge near Stateline.

“We’re trying to deal with the challenges,” he said after the agency meeting.

Reports have indicated convention center concepts in general have fallen by the wayside in some cities. It appears this city wants to tread lightly before committing to a business loss. Councilman Hal Cole stressed wanting to get out of committing the city to property acquisitions.

Deviating from the overall plan for a convention center, hotel and retail would also result in the end of the Marriott-city agreement.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com


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