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Private development included in city project

Michael Schneider

City officials and council members have long said properties within the city’s redevelopment zones will be remodeled if not replaced.

Now they are seeing another benefit of redevelopment.

“Redevelopment is the only reason,” Manfred Lohr said. Manfred and his wife Kaethe, owners and operators of the three South Lake Tahoe Travelodges, are currently performing a half-million dollar face-lift on the Stateline Travelodge.

“Of course,” said Kevin Cole, council member and Redevelopment Agency chair, when asked if city leaders considered the impact on the private sector when beginning redevelopment projects. “It was designed to get people to do what the Travelodge is doing.”

Cole said city redevelopment, when first planned more than a decade ago, was modeled after a jumbo-sized mall. In most malls, according to Cole, there is an “anchor” store on each end, such as a Macy’s, that people will come to the mall to frequent. The rest of the stores in the middle get business because of the main attractions.

Cole said the city’s redevelopment “anchors” are the Ski Run Project and the state line redevelopment projects, Park Avenue and Project 3. He said the city hoped and intended for the business located between the two anchors be remodel to keep up with the Jones.’

Cole pointed to projects in progress or already completed between the two anchors, such as the Ski Run McDonalds, the Fantasy Inn’s planned expansion and the improvements to the Pioneer Triangle.

The city’s current project, the Linear Park Project, also falls within those anchors.

Manfred said, with the planned redevelopment around his motels, he was afraid the Travelodge would look like the oldest building on the block. He said it was built in 1958.

“It’s 40 years old, it’s time to do something with it,” Manfred said.

Manfred and Kaethe moved to South Shore in 1972 when they bought the Travelodge South Tahoe in the Ski Run area.

They bought the Travelodge Stateline four years later and also own the Travelodge Casino area next door.

The plans to remodel the Stateline motel include new wooden siding, which Manfred called the “old Tahoe look.” A carport will also be constructed at the corner of Park Avenue and U.S. Highway 50 and pitched roofs will be installed to replace the motel’s flat roofs.

The motel will not close while undergoing construction as the work will be done in phases.

Manfred said the couple needed approval from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as well as city before undertaking the project.

“Both were fantastic,” Manfred said. “We’d heard horror stories about the TRPA, but they bent over backwards for us.”

“They want new things,” Kaethe said, agreeing TRPA worked with the Lohr’s to move their project along.

Pam Drum, public affairs coordinator for the TRPA, said most of the horror stories are more myths than realities.

“No matter what they had wanted to do with the property, we would have done whatever we could to help with questions and move the process forward,” Drum said of the Lohrs.

Drum said the TRPA has recently embarked on a streamlining process so more time can be spent on bigger projects.

Next fall the Lohr’s plan to remodel the adjacent Travelodge casino area. There are also plans to redo the Travelodge South Tahoe in the future.

Manfred said the room prices will increase slightly after the remodel, but said they will still be cheaper than the other new lodging in the area.

The Lohr’s said they hope to have the work finished on the motel by the New Year’s holiday, but Kaethe said it could be sooner if the weather cooperates.

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

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