SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Construction of the Bijou Marketplace began earlier this month with the demolition of an old motel at the corner of U.S. 50 and Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe.
“Now when our locals and our visitors come down Highway 50, the gateway to Heavenly for many of those people will be brand new, anchored by Whole Foods 365 and whatever retail businesses that Halferty Development puts in here,” South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass said at the groundbreaking.
“I’ll tell you what: Things are about as good in Tahoe as they’ve been in a long time … Everywhere you turn there is construction, rehabilitation, gentrification.”
After four years of working toward a deal, Chris Peto, chief operating officer of Halferty Development, said the company is “excited to be here.”
“We plan to be completed by the end of next year. Our focus has been on the grocery side of it, and (Whole Foods 365) is our only executed lease right now, but we’re working on the other tenants,” said Peto. “We have interest in almost all of the other spaces.”
Adam Smith, executive coordinator of design and construction for Whole Foods, attended the groundbreaking.
“We have been wanting to be a member of the community here in the Lake Tahoe area for many, many years, and we’re very excited that Whole Foods Market 365 will have one of the first stores in the country right here in Tahoe,” Smith said.
He added that he sees a lot of potential for partnerships between Whole Food’s lower-priced store and the South Lake Tahoe community.
Former mayor and councilmember Hal Cole, who worked on for many years before deciding to retire from politics last year, pointed to the environmental benefits of the project. It will daylight Bijou Park Creek and reduce the amount of fine sediment that is currently dumped into the lake through a water pipe.
Cole credited City Manager Nancy Kerry and her “tenacity” for keeping the project alive despite hurdles in the sale of the Knights Inn.
“Everybody else has had a little piece of it, but from the beginning to the end Nancy Kerry deserves all the credit,” Cole said.