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Round Hill Square slowly taking shape

Sally J. Taylor

The evolution of the aging Round Hill Mall into the modern Round Hill Square is moving steadily forward, if slightly slower than originally anticipated.

“I’ll be glad to get this done,” said Doug Rastello, co-owner of Round Hill Ventures, developers of the new center.

The first phase, which included major realignment of the parking lot and construction of the largest building in the square to house the new Safeway, is completed with interior improvements under way. Demolition of the remaining old mall structure should begin next month with the Phase Two building scheduled for completion early this summer.

Straw Hat Pizza joined Safeway in the first phase of the new structure about 10 days ago after being closed two weeks during the transition.

“We had to close and do this, but we’re happy now,” said Straw Hat co-owner Toni Di Goioa, who described the new space as “beautiful, airy and customer friendly.”

One by one, shops now doing business in trailers and in the remaining section of the old mall will move into the new building along with a few businesses new to the site.

Businesses with straightforward tenant improvements should be moved in by April 1, Rastello said. Those businesses include Round Hill Video, Nevada Side Diner (now Nevada Side Espresso), Women’s Sport, Tips & Toes, Round Hill Management Office, The Midnight Mine, Oliver’s Jewelers, Trout Creek Flies plus a dry cleaners and one-hour photo lab.

The U.S. Post Office and Lake Tahoe Surgical Center will take a little longer because of the extensive tenant improvements needed for those services.

The special needs of the surgical center also “mandated so many changes (to the building plans) that we’re about three months behind,” Rastello said.

Once everyone is moved in, “we’ll be completely done with that section (which is the hardest),” he said.

Preparations, including plans for redirecting utility lines, are already under way so that demolition on the remaining old buildings can take place as soon as possible.

With a couple clear days, demolition could begin as soon as Friday on the old Safeway building and pizza parlor, Rastello said, but next week is more likely.

Phase Two construction will begin in March with completion expected in June or July.

Round Hill Ventures is actively marketing to fill the balance of the spaces in Phase Two. Some “major guys” are showing interest, Rastello said. “In three weeks we’ll have the key pieces done.”

During the first phase of construction last year, the remaining businesses at the mall at the corner at U.S. Highway 50 and Elks Point Boulevard struggled to stay open in the midst of heavy construction equipment and chain-link fences. With the parking lot completed, Phase Two is expected to be much less problematic.

With only two businesses moved in to the first-phase building, the response has been positive.

“Is this a successful development? It is,” Rastello said. “We’ve validated out goals or vision, whatever you want to call it. We have a really nice Safeway. A lot of people are going there to shop.”

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

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