With plans to break ground in 2017 on a massive mountain redevelopment, we’re not saying the Basin’s most notorious big-ski-structure firestarter Alex Cushing would be proud …but…

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Homewood Mountain Resort will suspend all skiing activities Wednesday after a fire broke out at the resort’s south lodge shortly after 3 a.m. The two-alarm fire decimated the building which could be best described as “Down-on-his-luck-Sunnyside-busser-looking-for-a-place-to-nap-meets-post-Mid-Century-Modern-ski-shabby-chic.”

Area fire crews will work through the day to finish the demo.

Homewood officials, in a released statement Wednesday morning, said mountain operations would be “on hold until further notice.”

A complete redevelopment of the mountain, including turning the scorched south lodge footprint into a “ski-in/ski-out residential enclave designed to compliment [sic] the existing neighborhood” is what’s planned for the area. The development on the south lodge footprint calls for construction of up to 37 condominiums located in a new three-story lodge to replace what is now a giant s’mores cooker.

The project on that side of the mountain will also bring up to 52 mountainside chalets as well as 16 town homes adjacent to Tahoe Ski Bowl. Current plans also call for the relocation of all parking and non-residential “day skier” activities to the north base area as well as the removal of the south lodge’s adjacent maintenance facility which may have also been damaged beyond repair in the fire.

In June, after almost a decade of litigation, California’s Third District Appellate Court ruled in favor of Placer County (which originally approved the project) and Homewood owner JMA Ventures in a lawsuit against the development from the Davis-based California Clean Energy Committee. The nonprofit sued based on the project’s Environmental Impact Report’s failure to identify or evaluate wildfire evacuation risk on the West Shore as it relates to the new development in congress with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Though the court decided in favor of JMA moving forward with the development, it also stipulated that the project’s 2011 EIR be updated with a new evacuation plan for area wildlife in the event of a, yep, catastrophic fire. This will require another public review period, presumably sometime early next year.

JMA owners were still optimistic this fall that ground would break on the redevelopment project by fall 2017 which had many longtime West Shore residents up in arms as it they don’t like their private lakeside club complete with Godfather estate, Chamber’s Punch and third-generation Marina-based dickheads spitting date-rapey beach volleyball game in their Chubbies accessible only by a dark and windy-ass two-lane road to be disturbed.

The project—originally proposed as a half-billion-dollar re-imagining of the family resort on the West Shore into a five-star hotel with up 75 rooms, 15,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and underground parking at the north lodge footprint with the aforementioned private ownership opportunities at the south lodge zone—has been stalled out or enmeshed in environmental, legal or PR imbroglios for the entirety of its lifespan.

JMA reached a settlement with the Friends of the West Shore and Tahoe Area Sierra Club in 2014 in response to a federal lawsuit filed in early 2012. The idea of renovating Homewood’s two base areas (north and south) was first proposed in 2006. JMA officially submitted the application and preliminary plans in 2007.

JMA Ventures is a San Francisco-based commercial real estate agency whose portfolio includes Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square, The Bay Club, The West Shore Cafe and Inn, Hyatt Regency La Jolla, Homewood High and Dry Marina and Red Lodge Mountain (Montana.) In 2007, JMA Ventures also acquired nearby Alpine Meadows from the Powdr Corporation. Alpine then physically merged with neighboring Squaw Valley as part of a joint venture in 2011. The majority of Alpine ownership was then transferred to the umbrella company Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC which is owned and managed by a private equity firm, Colorado-based KSL Capital Partners.

Homewood, located just south of Tahoe City, has 1,260 acres of skiable terrain and seven lifts. JMA has owned and operated the resort since its purchase from the Jeff Yurosek family, who had owned the ski area from 1998-2005. The Yuroseks originally wanted to sell the resort to the U.S. Forest Service in hopes that it be restored to publicly accessible lands.

Fire crews from the North Lake Fire Protection District, Truckee Fire Protection District, Squaw Valley Fire Department, Northstar Fire Department, South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Protection District have been onsite continuing to mitigate and investigate the conflagration.

There were no injuries (tiny woodland creatures and one very butt-worn set of conference room chairs notwithstanding) associated with the blaze.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author ofBurgundy Upholstery Skyand would normally say he can’t wait for 2016 to be over if 2017 didn’t look like such a bitch dead ahead.

Image: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

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