Two dilapidated homes come down from South Shore |

Two dilapidated homes come down from South Shore

Lake Tahoe has two fewer dilapidated buildings blemishing its South Shore.

Boarded up and lifeless for almost two decades, the houses at U.S. Highway 50 and Meadow Vale Drive fell Friday to the crunching arm of an excavator.

Within minutes the walls crumbled to the ground, signaling an end to a process that has taken nearly nine years to complete.

“This was started back when I was in office in 1991 or 1992,” said former El Dorado County Supervisor John Upton. “It’s been in the making that many years.”

An agreement on appraised value between property owner Ed McCarthy and the California Tahoe Conservancy led to the buildings’ demise.

McCarthy agreed to sell the 4.8-acre plot to the state agency for the appraised value of $235,000 minus the cost of demolition and site restoration, which is expected to amount to about $20,000.

Reaching an agreement on valuation has been the reason for the holdup in the sale.

McCarthy, who worked as a real estate broker for the Country Club Estates during the early 1970s, has owned the buildings since they were built in 1972. One building served as a model home to the subdivision and the other as a real estate office.

“I have a lot of memories with these buildings,” McCarthy said moments before the demolition. “Hundreds of lots were sold inside the office.”

The buildings were originally zoned by El Dorado County for commercial use but were downgraded to recreational use by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1982. Since then, McCarthy hasn’t been able to use the property and maintenance has been deferred.

Because of the limit on use, the original appraised values for the properties were unacceptable, McCarthy said. But being able to prove to the TRPA that the structures were once used commercially provided for a different formula for valuation.

McCarthy called the Conservancy’s offer a “fair price,” but still under market value.

“I think the property is probably worth about $350,000 but I’d have to restore the buildings,” he said.

Bringing the buildings to code would cost about $100,000, which made the Conservancy deal even more appealing, McCarthy added.

As a condition of the sale, McCarthy agreed to raze the buildings and restore the site before the close of escrow, which is expected in October.

The acquisition connects nearby Conservancy properties.

“It will be about 17 contiguous acres that goes all the way to the river with the exception of one private holding,” said Gerry Willmett, Conservancy program manager.

Willmett added that the purchase is significant since it will allow the agency to restore a large portion of the Upper Truckee River watershed to its natural forested wetlands state.

Tearing the buildings down will also eliminate blight, which McCarthy describes as an “embarrassment,” considering that some of his other properties at the south shore – the Colony Inn and the Stardust Inn – have received recognition from the city of South Lake Tahoe for exceptional upkeep and landscape design.

County Supervisor Dave Solaro said removing the buildings will bring a better first-impression to Tahoe’s visitors.

“It’s a negative impression that you don’t want visitors to remember,” Solaro said during the buildings’ demolition. “This is probably one of the most significant votes (the Conservancy) has made. Unfortunately it was overshadowed by the Barton Meadow purchase.”

The Conservancy is also working on buying two other South Shore properties – the 311-acre Meadow Edge property for $10 million and the $5.5 million Caltrans right- of-way strip. Escrow is expected to close on all of the Conservancy purchases late in October.

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