Park Avenue Project won’t begin this year
A familiar decision on the Park Avenue Project was made Tuesday. It’s one that’s been made about this time for the last six or so years. The South Lake Tahoe City Council decided to postpone the project again.
The state line redevelopment project was to break ground in the early 1990s. After planning problems and various developers jumping ship, city leaders finally said they had learned from their mistakes and would move forward this spring.
This year’s reason, offered by South Tahoe Redevelopment Manager Jaye Von Klug, was there simply wasn’t enough time to move through the aspects of the project such as construction agreements, property acquisition and bonding.
Stan Hansen, Heavenly’s vice president of planning and governmental affairs said the project just wasn’t to be this year.
“I’m here to say we can’t (make the deadlines),” Hansen told the council. “I’m sad to see it and I sit here heavy.”
Von Klug said there were three main issues regarding the project’s Disposition and Development Agreement on which the city and American Skiing Company, Park Avenue’s main private proponent, could not agree in time.
— The amount of a letter of credit to be provided to the city from ASC in the event the ski company would be unable to construct new buildings after the city had the old ones demolished.
— An amount of compensation for Cecil’s Market General Store. Cecil’s was scheduled to be torn down next year to make way for a gondola leading to Heavenly Ski Resort but not be rebuilt until at least 2000.
— Details of Mello Roos tax district financing. Mello Roos taxes from quarter share sales at the proposed Grand Summit Resort were to be used to pay for portions of the project, but ASC has not yet begun to presell the quarter shares.
Another problem is the lack of a development partner for the Lake Tahoe Inn. ASC is looking for a hotel industry partner as hotels are not the company’s strong suit, according to Hansen.
Von Klug said should a partner with hotel industry experience be found for the Lake Tahoe Inn, the rest of the problems should be easily worked out in time for the new Park Avenue Project time table.
Under the old plan, which city leaders formerly touted but now refer to as “the accelerated schedule,” the Disposition and Development Agreement was to win council approval on Jan. 19. Now it won’t be before the council until May 4.
The bond sale to finance the acquisition and demolition of the old properties in the redevelopment area was to take place Feb. 10. It will now be done on July 21.
Demolition of the properties has been moved from June 15 to July 1 to February 1 to May 15, 1999. The construction is expected to start after demolition however the project is now proposed to be done in one fell swoop and not in phases.
Even the most ardent supporters of redevelopment on the council seemed relieved that the project was postponed.
“I’ve been very uncomfortable with the process,” said agency chairman Tom Davis.
“Even with my limited experience, I read this and thought this was impossible,” newly elected council member Brooke Laine said.
Lew Feldman, who represents the private interests in the proposed project, said a great deal has been accomplished already.
“We’ve come 95 percent of the way and it’s not lost,” Feldman said. “We all want to get it going as soon as possible with as little risk to each side as possible.”
If and when it is completed, the Park Avenue Project will see all existing structures from just west of the Embassy Suites Hotel to the Crescent V Shopping Center torn down. Park Avenue will be realigned to be a straight street with a gondola leading to Heavenly Ski Resort where Cecil’s Market currently sits. A new Lake Tahoe Inn, quarter share lodging, a multiplex movie theater, public ice rink and transportation center are also project components.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Officials said conversations are occurring daily in regards to reopening U.S. Highway 50, but there is still no estimated date as to when traffic may start flowing again.