Friday, May 29, 2009

Lakefront development coming to Tahoe

Luxury community planned for Lake Tahoe shore
Kathryn Reed, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, May 24, 2009

(05-24) 04:00 PDT Stateline, Nev. --
A 19-acre lakefront property that has housed a mobile home park since the 1960s is poised to be developed into the first multifamily residential complex to be built on the shores of Lake Tahoe in more than a quarter-century.
This area on the South Shore, northeast of the Stateline casinos, will be transformed into the high-end, luxury Tahoe Beach Club, whose plans include 143 units, 270 feet of private beach, a private restaurant and a concierge service that will cater to residents' every whim - from picking up dry cleaning to walking a resident's dog to having meals prepared in the home.
"It's about location and lifestyle," said Bob Mecay, president of the group, who plans to move into the development with his wife. "All the work of taking care of a house will be taken care of."
That's a far cry from the land's current use.
When Mecay, Tom Castaneda and partners bought the parcel in 2002 for about $12.6 million, 155 mobile homes dotted the landscape. Most of the units are still on the property, but only 30 are occupied full-time by owners. Another 25 are rentals, some seasonally. The rest have been abandoned or removed since the residents were notified seven years ago that they eventually would be displaced - none owns the land on which the trailers sit.
Tahoe Beach Club residents will have at their disposal a 43,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes a spa, Pilates studio, gym, bar and grill, and party room. Shuttle service will be provided to the nearby Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course - home of the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament - Heavenly Mountain Resort, shopping, casinos, dining and countless trails.
The developers, who have completed a number of commercial, resort and condominium projects in the United States and Canada over the past 30 years, plan to refurbish and extend the existing pier to 160 feet. The property comes with three buoys, so private boat access is limited; a boat valet service is being discussed.
Mecay and Castaneda expect buyers to hail mostly from the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley. Their theory is bearing out, judging by the people inquiring about the development.
The developers are in talks with institutional and private investors to secure $260 million before breaking ground on the three-phase project. This is huge for locals and visitors who drive by the stalled $420 million convention center-hotel project across the state line in California. It's a hole in the ground with a foundation because Lake Tahoe Development Co. ran out of funding.
With Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules prohibiting the disturbance of dirt between Oct. 15 and May 1, it is likely construction will not begin until next year.
When it's completed, 14 buildings will be dispersed along the nearly milelong parcel of land. There will be seven estate homes, four lodge buildings, one carriage house, a gate house and a beach club. Three to six residential units will fill each floor of the three-story estate and lodge buildings.
Estates will have three- and four-bedroom units, some with a den, that range from 2,500 to 3,700 square feet. Lodge dwellings will be two-, three- and four-bedroom units with square footage from 1,250 to 4,000. The remaining buildings will house smaller units.
Views include the waters of Tahoe, the slopes of Heavenly and Rabe Meadow.
Developers expect the price per unit to span $1.5 million to $4 million.
The goal is to create a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver-rated project.
Indeed, environmental improvements are a main reason the project passed TRPA review. If that agency had been around in the 1950s, it's likely this swath of land, which at one time even contained an airstrip, would still be a meadow. Development has altered half of the meadows in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Plan to reduce sediment
According to environmental documents, 11,000 pounds of sediment flow into Lake Tahoe each year just from this location. That sediment is what contributes to the lake losing its pristine clarity. The plan is to reduce sediment by 94 percent so only 632 pounds per year enter the lake.
About 2 acres will no longer be paved. Walking trails will meander among the new buildings. Riparian ponds will be created to handle runoff as well as provide a year-round sanctuary for birds. And Mecay said the project and its residents will use less water than the mobile home park.
The developers plan to leave as many of the pines and aspens as possible. Landscaping will be with native vegetation. Power lines now strung across the property will be buried.
Stone, wood, concrete, solar, radiant heating, gas fireplaces and granite countertops all are likely to be part of the mix, but Mecay would not commit to specifics.
The development will radically alter the neighborhood. Kahle Drive, leading up to the gated Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park, is a stretch of modest single-family residences. Immediately to the west is the University of Nevada 4-H camp; to the east are 350 acres of U.S. Forest Service land.
The mobile home park residents were notified that they would be displaced when Mecay and his partners bought the property. Meetings about the developers' plans initially were emotional and contentious. As the plans move forward, the remaining residents will be given six months' notice.
Residents are being paid fair market value for their homes and receiving help with moving costs per Nevada law. Some are getting a $5,000 check.
Some affordable housing
Because so many year-round residents of modest means are being ousted, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency required some concessions: The developers must provide 39 deed-restricted affordable housing units and 15 moderate income deed-restricted units.
"This is a situation where the lake benefits, but some people don't. Some people are having to move," said Dennis Oliver, an agency spokesman.
"The ideal condition would be for nothing to be there, but we are talking about a piece of real estate that is very valuable," Oliver said. "This is a mistake of the past in terms of the environment. We are going back and undoing it part of the way."
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This article appeared on page M - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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