Redevelopment moving at speed of light
More than eight years in the making, the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project is steaming ahead on a tight schedule, where all the pieces are set to fall into place before the start of the building season in May.
Keeping the pace, the city of South Lake Tahoe hopes to acquire 13 properties and relocate 39 businesses on the redevelopment block by the first week of April. Both projects are right on schedule, according to redevelopment officials.
Judith Von Klug, the city’s redevelopment manager, said two of the 13 properties in the project area have closed escrow and are now in the city’s hands.
Using money borrowed in the sale of $33 million worth of municipal bonds, the city purchased the Economy Inn on U.S. Highway 50 for $1,644,300 and the El Dorado Savings Bank near the Crescent V Fashion Center for $360,000.
Some of the 11 properties remaining are in escrow and are expected to close in the next month. A handful of the property owners have not settled on a price.
“The larger, more expensive properties have settled,” Von Klug said. “I know that there is one property of the 13 that will likely go into litigation – they are so far from the city in negotiations.”
Which property owner is expected to take the issue to court will not be disclosed until negotiations are over. She said going through the court process will not hold up the redevelopment project.
With property acquisitions in the works, relocation consultant Bill Von Klug said moving the businesses out by April is also an obtainable goal.
“There haven’t been any unusual, unforeseeable problems,” he said. “I feel confident that we’ll make deadline.”
Bill Von Klug said some businesses have already moved and others are still seeking an appropriate site to move to.
“The majority of businesses are showing a tremendous amount of civic pride, and they’re saying, ‘I know that this can hurt my business in some ways, but I know it’s going to be good for the town,'” he said. “We’re going through this process, and the businesses have not hit the lottery – there’re going to be hardships anytime you have to do something that you don’t want to do.”
Judith Von Klug said after all the businesses are relocated and the property is in city ownership, she expects the property to be bought by the eight developers sometime in May.
But before the foundations can be poured, one final deal remains open that must be signed – a parking management agreement.
The agreement will determine the cost of parking in and around the redevelopment project. It also spells out who will build the $5 million parking garage along Park Avenue.
A memorandum of understanding, to draw the owners of the Crescent V Fashion Center into the parking agreement, has been reviewed at least four times by the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency. The MOU also contains a conflict-resolution clause through a negotiations process with a parking management expert.
Judith Von Klug said it’s important to include the Crescent V owners even though they are not a proponent in redevelopment because they will be so close to the paid parking zone.
“In some way you have to control the Crescent V parking lot,” she said. “And they’ve had free parking there forever, and they don’t really want to see that change.”
She said they could retain free parking and still monitor the lot through a gate and guard system.
But at this point, the developers and the Crescent V owners haven’t agreed to sign the MOU or a parking management agreement.
Judith Von Klug said she is confident that an agreement will surface by the target date of Feb. 28.
“Getting the agreement is part of the condition of our project permit,” she said. “But we have resolved many conflicts over the years, and, at the end, this group has always been able to work things out.”
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