Paperwork goes to city |

Paperwork goes to city

Susan Wood

The city of South Lake Tahoe may slap its seal of approval tonight on a deal allowing Heavenly Ski Resort’s parent company to transfer development rights to an arm of Marriott International.

The largest U.S. hotel company, which is based in Bethesda, Maryland, agreed last week to take the hammer from American Skiing Company to build the much-anticipated Grand Summit Resort as part of the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project at Stateline.

And today, the city’s Redevelopment Agency will decide at a 4:30 p.m. special session to give its blessing to the Marriott Vacation Club taking over two major hotel complexes planned about 400 feet apart near the Heavenly Gondola. The meeting will be held in City Council Chambers at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

City Manager Dave Childs said Friday he believes the paper trail will involve a seamless transfer that should require some simple revisions to the city’s development agreement with the entities.

Marriott plans to internally fund the $100 million hotel-condominium project with quarter-to-whole ownerships, in addition to its proposed $129 million time-share hotel. Both are expected to begin construction in a matter of weeks, Childs indicated.

“Marriott will basically step in American Skiing’s shoes,” he said.

The city is somewhat breathing a sigh of relief that Marriott came forward.

The major chain has more funding power than ASC, which abandoned a proposed merger with MeriStar Hotels and Resorts that was intended to plunk $25 million into the Grand Summit project.

ASC was out in the business community seeking funding and business partners.

“To have a year’s delay would be a major concern for us,” Childs said. “They’re in a difficult financial position,” he added, referring to the Newry, Maine-based ski operator.

By mid-May, the two companies plan to finalize the deal, which calls for ASC to sell 85 percent of its ownership interest in the project. The amount of the development rights are undisclosed at this time.

“The deal will fulfill one of the company’s long-standing strategic goals of completing the quartershare development, the Heavenly gondola (already operational) and the adjacent Marriott development as quickly as possible in order to support the growth of Heavenly Ski Resort,” ASC’s new Chief Executive Officer B.J. Fair stated in the company’s formal announcement Friday.

Marriott Vacation Club President Steve Weisz views the handing over of the baton as a “great complement to our leisure portfolio; and the addition of a quartershare concept enhances our product offering.”

The company appears to be doing fine on its own. It operates 2,300 units in the United States and 59 other countries and territories.

As the largest Alpine ski resort operator, American Skiing Company has nine areas.

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