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New retail center struggles to get above financial woes

Sally J. Taylor

Construction delays and customer-blocking road work are blamed for financial woes at the new Ski Run Marina Village.

Struggling against a reduced income, marina and village owner Michael Phillips is taking steps to pay the debts, while at least one contractor has placed a lien on the property.

“Mr. Phillips is selling some of his other assets to raise cash to pay these people,” said Dena Schwarte, project manager for the Ski Run Marina Village. “Everybody should be paid by Christmas.”



The retail village, one corner of the city’s Ski Run Redevelopment Project, has not had the foot traffic expected. Extensive road work near the village entrance has discouraged shoppers from stopping, and development of the village restaurant, the Riva Grill, has been delayed.

Work completely stopped for a time on the Riva Grill, which was expected to open in September. It is being developed by restaurateur Tom Turner, owner of Gar Woods in Carnelian Bay.



“The tenant improvements (for the Riva Grill) cost more than expected, more than was budgeted for,” Schwarte said. “Work was stopped and (Turner) had to raise more.”

With additional funds secured, work on the restaurant has resumed, and the eatery is expected to open on April 1.

“It’s almost a year behind,” Schwarte said.

Rent for the other tenants has been reduced until the Riva Grill opens as compensation for the low customer volume.

Such setbacks have created a “cascading impact” on the financial situation of the village, Schwarte said. Construction companies were to be paid from the cash flow of the restaurant.

“There’s less income from rent and no income from the restaurant,” she said.

In September, Chris Strohm, owner of Strohm’s Construction Co., Inc., filed a lien on the village for construction costs due for payment on July 3. The company has until Jan. 15 to file for foreclosure.

Strohm is both encouraged by Phillips’ efforts and disappointed at the long delay.

“We’ve worked out a payment plan,” Strohm said.”I’ve been assured the money is coming.”

Representatives from GB Construction and Sierra Valley Electric, who are also owed money for work completed, declined comment.

In the meantime, the village owners hope to boost foot traffic and improve what could be a difficult Christmas season.

South Shore residents are being offered free parking and store discounts and the courtyard is decked out for Christmas. A tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled this weekend.

The Tahoe Tallac Association has an art show in one of the village spaces and will donate 10 percent of its sales to the Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary in lieu of rent.

“We’re still excited about the project,” Schwarte said. “It’s just not happening in the time we thought.”


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