Developers and environmentalists said Thursday they have settled a lawsuit that blocked a major redevelopment of Lake Tahoe’s Homewood Mountain Resort.
The settlement means the project, which will cost $400 million to $500 million, will break ground in spring 2015, said Art Chapman of JMA Ventures, the owner of Homewood.
The settlement came a year after a federal judge in Sacramento halted the Homewood project from going forward, saying the environmental impact statement needed revision. Under the settlement, the project will be scaled back somewhat.
The Homewood project has been widely anticipated by advocates of growth in the Tahoe region, who argue that the lake must bring new high-end hotels and other amenities to turn the lake into a world-class destination resort. Over the past decade, Tahoe has seen its Northern California visitor base dwindle because of competition from Indian casinos.
“We’re trying to convert (Tahoe) to more of a destination, rather than a drive-to market,” Chapman said in an interview. He said JMA expects to announce detailed plans for a hotel on the site in the next three or four months.
Homewood has been losing money the past several years, he added, and the drought has hurt the skiing business in particular this winter.
Homewood, located near Tahoe City, has operated as a ski resort since 1962 and was purchased seven years ago by JMA. The San Francisco firm, which recently sold Sacramento’s Downtown Plaza to the Kings to use for a new NBA arena, proposed redeveloping Homewood five years ago.
The plan would expand the resort from 25,000 square feet to over 1 million, according to court records. Some 325 housing units would be added, and the ski facilities would be upgraded, according to court records.
While the project was approved by Placer County officials and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, it was hit with a lawsuit by the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore. U.S District Judge William Shubb halted the project last January, saying there were environmental deficiencies.
Under the settlement, JMA agreed to put certain parcels of land off-limits to development and cancel 13 of the housing units.
“It’s not a huge number, but it is significant,” said Wendy Park of Earthjustice, an environmental law firm in the Bay Area that represented the groups protesting the original plan.
Chapman said JMA is committed to preserving the environment. “That’s good business at Tahoe – it will resonate with people,” he said. “We live here in the community and we want to do this right.”
Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.