Round Hill Square shapping up |

Round Hill Square shapping up

Finishing touches are being applied to the Round Hill Square. After two years and two phases of demolition and construction, the dream is near completion.

“It’s a successful project that came together,” said co-owner Doug Rastello, of Round Hill Ventures. “It took a lot of work. It got done for several reasons: our vision and a lot of regulators helping us and being reasonable.

“It’s a significant contribution to the whole area.”

Rastello and partners Andrew MacDonald and Phil Ramming purchased the 30-year old mall in 1996 and announced plans to tear it down and build from scratch.

Demolition occurred in two stages. For business owners in the mall, the process was frustrating. Some moved from spot to spot ahead of demolition, or into temporary locations before settling down into the new structures. Other’s moved out to stay.

During construction, the U.S. Post Office floated in a trailer in the parking lot, an island amid heavy construction.

The Midnight Mine reopened for business in its new location over the weekend, the last of the original mall tenants to reopen.

Other businesses from the mall reopened in the first section. The new Safeway lead the way in December 1997, with the first wing of the square receiving occupants about a year ago. The last wing was structurally completed in December.

The Lake Tahoe Orthopedic Institute and related businesses opened in August 1998, in an upstairs complex.

Even with finishing touches – including store signs – still awaiting completion, business owners are happy with business traffic and expectant of even better days when all the spaces are filled.

“Business in the center has catapulted,” said Ed Laine, co-owner of Laine Photography. “I’ve not heard a discouraging word.”

“We’ve been busy, busy, busy,” said Jeanette Francis, manager of Bobby Page Round Hill Cleaners. “Business has definitely increased.”

“It’s starting to get together as more spaces are filled up,” said Mauro DiGioia, co-owner of Straw Hat Pizza. “It’s starting to look like something exciting.”

“Business is certainly better than in the old mall. I’m more visible here,” said Alan Zalk, owner of Round Hill Video. “It’s picking up. I have high hopes it will get better.”

Not all of the open businesses are original to the mall. Women Sport, a fairly new business, opened for the first time in the square.

“It’s an exciting place to be,” said the owner, Dana Turvey. “So far, so good, especially for a new business. Sure there are slow times. That will be the case until it’s finished and has more to draw people in.”

Most of the open shops are located between the supermarket and the post office where foot traffic is heaviest. Farther down, empty shells are more plentiful than open shops.

The owner of Patricia’s Fine Gifts and Antiques willingly moved from Kingsbury Grade to a space away from the hub of activity.

“I love being here and can’t wait until the rest of the shops open,” said Pat Uyeda, whose shop reopened in December. “I knew it would take awhile. I was so sure of (increased business at Round Hill) that I expanded to 2,600 square feet.”

The business owners shouldn’t have long to wait for foot traffic to pick up.

In the next couple weeks two more food establishments are expected to open: a Mexican grill and an espresso cafe.

Most of the remaining spaces could be filled within three months.

Property manager Glenn Fleming of Fleming Properties, Inc. is in negotiations with a mortgage company, stock broker, stationary store, health food store, pet store and book store.

“If we sign all those, we’re full,” Fleming said. “Within 90 days, we’ll be 97 percent filled or at least have leases.

“It’s really, really positive. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. The Round Hill Square is a great neighborhood addition.”

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