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Homewood Resort Gets Approval to Expand

Photo courtesy of Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood Mountain Resort is about to enter the modern era.

After half a decade of wishing and hoping, wheeling and dealing, the homey little West Shore ski and snowboard hill on Wednesday evening got the approval of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to go ahead with Phase 1 of its $500 million master plan.

“We’re very pleased with the (TRPA) governing board’s decision,” Homewood spokesperson Rachael Woods said. “We’ve waited five years for approval. … This is very exciting news.”

Homewood, which sits on 1,200 acres of forested land a few miles south of Tahoe City, has built a reputation in its 50 years of existence as a locals’ favorite, a quaint resort that more than makes up in ambience what it lacks in modern accoutrements (not to mention, it has the best views of the lake while on the slopes).  But because the refurbishing of Homewood is seen as a huge boost to the local economy, many nearby residents backed the master plan.

“We had quite a bit of community input, and we made many amendments throughout the process,” Woods said.

One major drawback to the project was Homewood’s location, with its base lodge less than a couple hundred yards from Tahoe’s shoreline. But San Francisco-based JMA Ventures, which owns the ski hill, has done its best to make the least intrusive mark on the lake as it refurbishes the resort. A 5-star hotel with up to 75 rooms, 56 residential condominiums, 47 multi-family condominiums, 48 ski-in ski-out chalets, 15,000 square feet of retail space, a swimming pool and an ice-skating rink, among other construction projects, will be built using Gold Standard Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green construction techniques.

“This is the only mixed-use resort in the U.S. that will be incorporating gold LEED construction standards,” JMA president Art Chapman said in a statement.

The project’s goal, the TRPA said in a release, is “to transform Homewood into an environmentally friendly, four-season resort. … This will add to the local economy while creating environmental improvements to protect … Lake Tahoe.”

“We’re replacing Homewood’s infrastructure, Woods said. “This (master plan) is the preferred version by everyone – us, the TRPA, the local community – concerned. They were part and parcel of the (approval) process.”

Groundbreaking on the project is not expected to take place until 2014, so you still have some time to sample one of Tahoe’s truly unique experiences. And while you’re waiting, how about checking out some local accommodations, such as the West Shore Café and Inn (which is right across the highway from the day lodge and is owned by Homewood), Tahoma Meadows B&B south of the resort or Granlibakken in Tahoe City? The resort will open for the 2011-12 season on Saturday, with limited operations.