Ski Run area at South Lake Tahoe is ready to roll
March 14, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” Ski Run Boulevard property owners and businesses have made substantial progress toward their goal of making the area the center of town. Within the past 18 months, the new Ski Run Center has neared completion, the Red Hut Cafe opened its third location, the Ski Run Marina finished its first phase of remodeling projects, and the Ski Run Business Improvement District received an on-going special events permit from the city.
But Ski Run business owners aren’t finished yet. There’s still a lot to do before they reach their goal of becoming an area frequented by both visitors and residents.
To reach that goal, businesses are trying to market what sets them apart from other areas in town.
“It’s one of the few places where a lake is at one end of the road, and a ski resort’s at the other,” said Brian Des Rochers, owner of Tahoe’s Choice Real Estate.
The new Ski Run Shopping Center is part of the major makeover the area’s received.
“It’s going to be a great asset and a great gateway to Ski Run Boulevard,” said Bill Edwards, president of Gersick Enterprises, which owns the center. “I’m thrilled the way it turned out.”
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The process to remodel the center started 6 1/2 years ago, Edwards said. The old center, which was built in 1962, closed in April 2008 to construct the new one.
Currently eight spots are filled at the center and five spots are available, Edwards said.
New and old South Shore business are enjoying the new center, too. Apres Wine Co. owner Barbara Tenney said January was a slow month, but so far things are busy on the weekends. The shop holds special wine-tasting events, and the last one was so full, they had to schedule a second tasting, she added.
The Red Hut Cafe opened on Tuesday, and Tenney said it will be a great anchor business for the center.
South Lake Tahoe resident Doug Madden stopped in to have brunch at the new Red Hut Cafe on Friday. He remembers Rudy Gersick, owner of Ski Run Lodge, hiring him and his friend to clean out the original lodge when it burned down in 1960. Madden said he wasn’t paid in cash, but Gersick let him keep all the beer cans that were rusty from the fire. He said the beer was fine to drink, as long as he poured it into a glass first.
The new shopping center is great, Madden said. It feels like a place locals are welcome, and it would be great if the lot on the opposite corner was developed, he added.
Goodfellas Pizza owner Kern McCarthy used to be in the old center, and said he likes the new place, but can’t tell how his business has been affected.
“It’s hard to tell because of the economy,” McCarthy said. “It’s slower, but I don’t think that’s because of the new building.”
McCarthy said about half of his customers are residents, and the other half are visitors. He said he’s received positive feedback from residents about how good the place looks.
Another key to strengthening the area is the marina. The Ski Run Marina provides recreation, while the center offers shopping, said Janette Dean, owner of Art for the Home at the marina. The two complement each other, and Ski Run Boulevard patrons have a variety of shops, restaurants and activities to choose from.
Dean thinks the new shopping center will bring more traffic from the Stateline area, which will spread more business around town.
The Ski Run Marina finished its first phase of remodeling, said owner Mansoor Alyeshmerni. Now they’re working on the parking situation, and transforming the area into a year-round attraction.
So far summer is the busy season for the area, and one of Alyeshmerni’s goals is to have an ice skating rink, or a miniature golf area there to attract more people. But that’s a way off, he said.
For New Year’s Eve, the Ski Run Marina hosted the family friendly Fire and Ice celebration, and Alyeshmerni wants the marina to be a venue for more community events.
A hot air balloon company will be moving into the marina in May, just in time for the summer season, Alyeshmerni said. Right now three spots are available for lease at the marina, he said. Also there is office space for professionals.
Another key to the area’s success is marketing all the business along the boulevard.
The goal of the Ski Run BID is to make the area the center of town, said Tenney, who is also a BID board member.
Des Rochers was the president of the Ski Run BID, but since he’s moving his office to Ski Run Marina, he’s technically out of the BID’s area.
The BID is in the process of rewriting its bylaws so it can also fund marketing, in addition to paying for street maintenance, which it does already, Des Rochers said.
The city must approve the revised bylaws before they can take effect, Des Rochers said.
If the bylaws are changed to add marketing to the BID’s mission, the organization could set up a Web site for the area, and create pamphlets so people could see all the area has to offer.
Des Rochers said the BID is planning to use the area special events, and received the necessary permit from the planning commission in January.
The permit allows for “temporary activities such as arts and crafts shows, farmers markets, street fairs and outdoor activities” at the marina, as well as the lots fronting Ski Run Boulevard between Aspen and Birch avenues, according to a city staff report.
The first event will hopefully be in June for the Tahoe Tallac Association South Lake Tahoe Arts and Wine Festival, Des Rochers said.