Lew Feldman, representative of the Stateline Redevelopment Partnerships, overviewed several projects with the Committee to illustrate the magnitude of private contributions, which would not have been possible without public support for the significant projects at Lake Tahoe, South Shore.
One project in Douglas County, Nevada, involved both an affordable housing and a timeshare development together with a significant stream zone restoration piece. The objective was to take development rights associated with the stream zone piece and transfer development rights to the timeshare piece and attempt to off set the loss of housing with the construction of affordable housing in Douglas County. Douglas County does not have a single deed restricted affordable housing project and there was a demand for quality housing for the work force in South Shore. The restoration piece uses four and a half acres of stream zone, which will be developed in part with bond revenue through Nevada State Lands. The economic driver of the project and the affordable housing project was the construction of the timeshare piece with the transfer of development rights. It was estimated the total contribution for the EIP portion of the private sector-driven project was approximately $7 million.
The Stateline Stormwater Detention System Project, was toured by the Committee on November 8, 2001. The project started in the late 1970s and was recently completed. The project captures and treats all urban run off in the casino core and golf course. The private contribution to this project was approximately $20 million.
Another project toured by the Committee, the Park Avenue Project has been a ten-year effort with the City of South Lake Tahoe and a coalition of private developers. The project is on 34 acres, the centerpiece being the gondola to Heavenly Ski Resort. There are two hotels under construction by Marriott, one will be a quarter-share hotel and the other will be a timeshare hotel. The scheduled date of completion is November 2002. An intermodal transit station will be constructed and completed along with a public parking garage and renovations to the Crescent V Shopping Center. Public benefits include a state of-the-art coordinated transit system, several pedestrian amenities, and affordable housing projects. The total cost is approximately $275 million, with an estimated $50 million related to the environmental issues.
Ski Run Redevelopment Project at South Shore involved construction of the Embassy Suites Hotel adjacent to Harrah's and the Embassy Suites Timeshare venture at Ski Run Boulevard and Highway 50. That project resulted in the reduction of significant coverage. Park Avenue reduced over five acres of coverage and the Ski Run project reduced a comparable amount and resulted in the construction of storm water detention basins at Highway 50 and Wildwood as well as an additional stream zone restoration project adjacent to Tahoe Meadows with a linear park and bike path. An estimated $130 million was spent on that project, with about $20 million utilized for the environmental improvements.
The final aspiring project involves the casino core property owners and redevelopment to reinvent a downtown experience, make it compatible with the new development that is occurring, and create a pedestrian-friendly city center. The focus would be a major overhaul of the Highway 50 corridor, and the concept involves the reduction of traffic lanes from five to three on Highway 50 to allow the sidewalks to be expanded. Highway 50 would then become two lanes east bound only from Park Avenue to the casino core and one lane along the mountain edge dedicated to transit (Exhibit P).
In response to a question by Assemblyman Lee, Mr. Feldman explained before the redevelopment projects occupancy for hotels and motels in South Shore was less than 50 percent with an average daily rate under $50/night. He indicated antiquated hotels and motels were to blame. The completion of the Embassy Suites Hotel allowed for a much higher occupancy rate and room rate. This created a tremendous impact on Harrah's due to the increase in quality bed base, longer staying guests, and higher spending guests. The Marriott projects are perceived as encouraging to the casinos.
Responding to a question from Senator Carlton, Mr. Teshara stated the coalition is sensitive to low-income housing issues in South Shore and is managing this issue by helping with the construction of new units, relocation projects, upgrading older units, and holding landlords accountable for up keep on current units.