Project 3 a ‘winner’ |

Project 3 a ‘winner’

Jenifer Ragland

City officials and community leaders gushed their support for “Project 3” at a presentation last week, although some said they would like to come up with a better name for the redevelopment effort.

“This is such a wonderful project, can’t we call it something that does it justice?” asked Mayor Tom Davis at a joint meeting of the South Lake Tahoe City Council and Planning Commission last Wednesday.

Lew Feldman, project attorney, said he has not yet assigned a name to the project because he didn’t want to make the same mistake as was made with the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.

“You say Park Avenue, and people think of New York City,” Feldman said. “We need to come up with something that says ‘Tahoe’ in it, so people know what we’re talking about.

“Maybe we should have a contest,” he joked.

The dialogue came after Feldman delivered a slide presentation on Project 3, saying it is a response to the great need for a large meeting facility on the South Shore.

Project 3 incorporates a 47,000-square-foot convention center, retail space, lodging facilities, cultural benefits and environmental projects such as a scaled-down replica of Lake Tahoe.

“With this project, there were significant opportunities to have done a lot less, but the project proponents felt it was important to maximize the opportunity to develop a great project,” Feldman said.

The presentation was followed by a few questions and a lot of praise from board members and those in the audience.

“Everyone was saying, ‘build it and they will come,'” said Councilman Kevin Cole. “I think we will have a product in the next four to five years that we are going to be darn proud of.”

Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, congratulated the project proponents, Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino and Segal and Yure, on the bold design of the project and their willingness to take on the public-private partnership.

“I can’t overemphasize how much support you have from the business community,” Wallace said. “We’re not where we wanna be, we’re not where we should be, but we’re not where we used to be.”

Ed McCarthy, owner of several South Shore lodging properties, put it succinctly.

“Clearly, we’ve got a winner.”

In response to the inevitable question, “When is this ever going to happen?” Feldman said his best probable guess – humorously acknowledging that he’s never right – would be that Project 3 breaks ground May 1, 2000.

Assuming Park Avenue follows its current schedule, construction on Project 3 would begin the year Park Avenue is completed. That project is now two years behind its original schedule due to the complex nature of its financing.

Judith Von Klug, city redevelopment manager, said there is no “rule” saying Project 3 must be the third project to move forward.

Because there are only two developers for Project 3 as opposed to five in Park Avenue, the financing is much easier and the process may be able to move more quickly. Some members of the community have suggested it would be possible for Project 3 to be ready to go before Park Avenue.

“It is possible, but at this point I don’t think it’s probable, because Park Avenue is working through the delays,” Von Klug said. “If a new problem were to crop up, it could be possible to do Project 3 first. Frankly, I think it’s more important to get a project going up there than to get them done in any arbitrary order.”

However, she said if both efforts were ready at the same time, Park Avenue would likely go first.

“They have invested longer amounts of time in the planning process and have broken a lot of ground,” Von Klug said.

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