Tahoe arts organization proposes 3,150 seat theater at Northstar | SierraSun.com

Tahoe arts organization proposes 3,150 seat theater at Northstar

Lake Tahoe may not just be for outdoor sports anymore.

At its July 25 meeting, the Placer County Board of Supervisors heard an update on the 3,150-seat, $30 million theater project being proposed by the Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation and Northstar Resort.

The project, known as the Stages at Northstar, would add a 500-seat indoor theater and 2,650-seat amphitheater to the lot near Northstar Drive and Highway 267.

According to a presentation from the arts foundation, the theater would increase visitation to the area and meet the "long term need for an arts facility in the Tahoe Region."

But not everyone is quick to endorse the project.

"Putting more stuff on (Highway) 267 is a land use planning nightmare," said Mountain Area Preservation Executive Director Alexis Ollar.

Recommended Stories For You

The project is still in its very early phases and no hard documents containing the details of the theater's design are publicly available yet, but Ollar said she has met with the project's applicants to better understand their proposal.

"I'm not opposed to this use, I just think this is one of the worst locations given the constraints of (Highway) 267," she said.

Traffic increases, as well as the impact of more vehicle emissions on the nearby Lake Tahoe Basin, were among the leading concerns regarding the nearby 760-home Martis Valley West development, which the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved last fall. Several groups, including Mountain Area Preservation, have pursued legal action against the county for approving the Martis Valley West project.

Ollar said she thinks the performing arts center will get a varied reaction from the community.

"I think it's going to be a mixed bag," she said. "I think a lot of people are going to be excited about this kind of amenity."

She believes plenty of environmental stewards would love to go to a show at the facility. But she's still got a lot of questions that haven't been addressed yet, like if the outdoor performance area will be impacted by the nearby airport or if the size of the facility will negatively affect the view of the natural landscape.

So far, the county board of supervisors has granted a total of $249,900 to the project's funding from transient occupancy, or lodging, tax revenue, according to a July 25 board memo. The memo said that awards were granted in 2013 and 2016, though a Placer County spokesperson told the Sun in an email that there was a typo and the awards were actually granted in 2013 and 2014.

The board approved a $153,900 grant in December 2013 for feasibility studies related to the project, and $96,000 in October 2014 for a capital campaign that was expected to run from November 2014 to September 2016 to raise the $30 million needed to build the facility. However, according to the foundation's website, the campaign didn't begin until March of this year.

The July 25 board memo states that the project is listed as a "Tier 1 priority" in the 2015 Tourism Master Plan. The plan is available to download on the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association's website. It lists trail systems, transportation, marketing and visitor information as tier 1 priorities. The Stages at Northstar is listed under tier 2.

Northstar spokeswoman Stephanie Meyers said that the resort's director of communication, Marcie Bradley, who is also on the project's board of directors, was not available by the Sun's deadline. Bradley did not respond to emails.

Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation Board Chairman Keith Vogt, who presented the update to the board, also said he was unable to speak about the project or answer any questions until Northstar's director of communication returns.

Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at arhoades@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.