Eminent domain struggle imminent: Lake Tahoe CA Daily Tribune, 1/9/07

By Susan Wood

Round two of eminent domain hearings aimed at building a $410 million convention center complex near the California-Nevada border is set in 10 days in El Dorado County Superior Court.

The South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency, working on behalf of a developer in a public-private partnership, has challenged Lakeside Landing again for access to the building. The agency's legal counsel filed a motion on Monday for the court to reconsider its earlier finding in favor of the retail shop.

The parties battled it out three weeks ago over who could take over the 1,600-square-foot building, with Landing owners John and Margaret Maxhimer winning the case that gave them until April to sell off the inventory bought for the winter ski season.

Lakeside Landing is among seven businesses in the 12-acre area between Highway 50, Cedar, Friday and Stateline avenues that has not settled on a buyout price with Lake Tahoe Development Co. The other businesses include Pub Tahoe, Taco Bell, Shirt Stop, Paradise Timeshare, Union 76 and Shoreline Ski and Snowboard.

But the agency, working as a legal conduit for developers Randy Lane of Falcon Capital in Stateline and John Serpa of DGD Development in Carson City, contends the "parties could agree upon a figure that would represent the potential sales from January to April 8," the latest motion reads.

The developer has met with the defendants "on several occasions" and believes it needs the building to "conduct necessary pre-sales of the hotel-condominium units from the defendants' building in order to obtain $340 million in construction financing," agency attorney Stacey Sheston wrote.

The city had worked out a contract with the developer with the understanding the developer would foot the construction bill on a 5,000-seat convention space, a retail center and two condominium hotels and receive property tax proceeds in exchange.

The developer had intended to break ground on the project next May and feels the pressure of meeting its deadline.

But Oakland attorney Claudia Gorham, who represents the retail establishments, said the latest motion is too late to meet the 10-day legal limit. She called the move "an interesting tactic" that may serve to "put pressure" on her clients.

"But if we could pay their costs, it could be a win-win for everybody," Redevelopment Manager Gene Palazzo said Monday afternoon.

The hearing is slated for Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. in Department 4.

Lake Tahoe CA Daily Tribune: http://www.tahoedailytribune.com