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Work on new Heavenly lodge begins

by Adam Jensen
ajensen@tahoedailytribune.com

Heavenly Mountain Resort officials celebrated the start of work on the first new lodge at the ski area in more than 30 years on Friday.

Construction of the as-of-yet unnamed lodge near the top of the resort’s gondola was hailed as a “milestone” that will change the way visitors experience the 4,800-acre ski area by Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail’s Mountain Division and the former Chief Operating Officer at Heavenly.

“The lodge is transformational for Heavenly’s overall resort experience, allowing us to ramp up the quality and variety of our food while increasing comfort for our guests,” Carrig said in a statement. “While many resorts are pulling back, Heavenly is pushing forward, solidifying our position as Lake Tahoe’s leading destination resort.”

The 14,980-square-foot restaurant will sit just behind the resort’s Tamarack Express chairlift and will include seating for 500 people indoors and 250 outdoors. Forty-foot tall windows will dominate the front of the building, allowing guests to overlook ski runs originating from the Tamarack lift.

Carrig said the outside of the building was kept simple to make the project economically feasible, but said the inside of the lodge is the “real showpiece” of the project.

Resort officials expect to submit the lodge for LEED certification upon completion because of its environmentally-friendly features.

The lodge is scheduled for a Feb. 1 opening, but Carrig was hopeful the lodge could be completed sooner.

Heavenly officials hoped to open the new lodge earlier in the ski season, but an appeal challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the project pushed construction back from June to July, Carrig said.

Washington D.C. resident Robert Coronado appealed the decision by Forest Supervisor Terri Marceron that allowed construction of the lodge, contending the forest service’s approval failed to develop an adequate range of alternatives, evaluate all unauthorized routs and did not sufficiently establish National Environmental Policy Act compliance for ground disturbing activities.

Coronado requested an Environmental Impact Statement be prepared regarding construction of the new lodge, and several other activities anticipated at the resort, including new snowmaking and construction of new ski trails.

In a July 2 letter, Regional Forester Robert MacWhorter found the documentation surrounding the projects “demonstrated compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies n light of the appeal issues raised by appellants.” The decision allowed construction of the new lodge to proceed.

Carrig declined to say exactly how much the new lodge will cost, but said Vail has put “millions and millions” into construction of the building.

Vail put more money into the project following the appeal to ensure the lodge could reach completion during the upcoming winter season, Carrig said.