With sale, Chateau Bijou will get upgrades | TahoeDailyTribune.com

With sale, Chateau Bijou will get upgrades

Mary Thompson

One of the city of South Lake Tahoe’s largest and oldest apartment complexes is just steps away from an upgrade.

The 92-unit Chateau Bijou apartment complex on Spruce Avenue is for sale. Developers Stephen Mattoon and Scott Lefaver have entered into a two-year purchase option agreement with owner Arnold Alves, who has been trying to sell the property for several years.

If the sale goes through, Mattoon and Lefaver plan to make more than $1 million worth of upgrades to the property including new carpet, bathroom fixtures and a fresh coat of interior and exterior paint.

Financing for the acquisition depends on the sale of $5.2 million of revenue bonds and a tax-credit program for low-income housing units.

In order for developers to be eligible for the bond money and tax credits, the city of South Lake Tahoe must join a joint powers authority called the Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG.

After some convincing, the South Lake Tahoe City Council approved two resolutions Tuesday, allowing the project to move forward.

On first reading of the proposal, councilmembers weren’t satisfied with the owners’ plan to renovate units for disabled people on an as-needed basis.

Councilwoman Judy Brown asked the developers to make the changes sooner rather than later.

“I think we’re missing a golden opportunity to make changes ahead of time and not have to make someone ask,” Brown said. “The way of looking at these issues has changed. Why make a person wait?”

Councilman Hal Cole, who is a contractor, said he believed it would be more cost-effective to make some of the units ready for the disabled ahead of time, before the need arises.

The developers agreed but said the units may not need renovation for the disabled.

“We could do that during rehab but those units may be rented to people who don’t have disabilities,” Mattoon said.

David Kelly, president of the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled, asked the council not to approve the resolutions until the developers put in writing that they will serve the needs of the disabled.

The developers succumbed, agreeing to make two units disability accessible.

The move satisfied Kelly.

“They don’t have to do (the upgrades) now if they’ll put it in writing that they’ll do it for any disabled person,” Kelly said.

It did not convince Councilmembers Bill Crawford and Brooke Laine, who voted against both resolutions.

Laine said she would have preferred to wait and have the developer come back at the next meeting with a better proposal that reflected the council’s concerns.

Crawford agreed.

“I’m in her camp,” Crawford said. “It bothers me that we get in this hurry, hurry, hurry up and that doesn’t always work.”

Brown, Cole and Mayor Tom Davis supported the resolutions after the commitment was made by the developers to upgrade two units for the disabled.

Chateau Bijou operates as one of five government-assisted affordable housing projects in the city. Davis said not approving the venture could force the sale of the property to a private developer who wouldn’t be obligated to follow the low-income housing rules under the tax-credit program.

Under the tax-credit program, the current developers wouldn’t be allowed to raise the rents beyond 60 percent of the area’s median income level.

Mattoon and Lefaver expect to close escrow on the property in June and plan to make the upgrades on the property in summer. The tenants would not have to move from the property when upgrades are being made, they said.

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