Reviving Kings Beach spirit | SierraSun.com

Reviving Kings Beach spirit

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunDave Ferrari of Ferrari's Crown Resort in Kings Beach stands outside the motel Tuesday. The family has owned the Kings Beach property, and others, for decades.

Three generations ago, the Ferrari family made a $2,000 investment to buy a one-bedroom cabin on a plot of lakefront property in the heart of Kings Beach.

More than 60 years later, the Ferrari family has big plans to redevelop their aging properties, which now include the Ferrari Crown Resort, the Gold Crest motel, Ann’s Cottages, Snowpeak Lodge and Little Bear’s Cottages.

The family’s aim is to turn the collection of small lodges into a destination resort that relives the classic spirit of Kings Beach from a bygone era.

“As I think back on Kings Beach and part of these projects, there’s a section that they talk about preserving the community character. And I guess for me, I’ve thought a lot about that,” Dave Ferrari said in an interview Tuesday. “The character that I remember … was really the character that was here when I was a young boy in the 1960s.”

The Ferrari family built the original Crown Motel themselves. The family-run lodging opened in the summer of 1956 and many of its original clients return each summer, now with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I guess that’s what goes down in our core values ” is to try and maintain that spirit of the family resort,” said Ferrari, who grew up cleaning the pool, sweeping and doing laundry among other odd jobs at the Kings Beach motel.

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Redevelopment plans focus on providing smaller and more affordable tourist accommodations, as opposed to larger timeshare units. Ferrari also wants to promote public transportation.

Design concepts draw from the property’s natural beauty and bringing “the outside in.”

An advocate of affordable housing, Ferrari said he will donate a parcel in the upper Kings Beach grid to an affordable-housing developer, as well as create a couple of workforce housing units on the immediate property for staff.

Ferrari intends to open up a portion of the beach in front of the lodging for public access, as well as create an approximately 50-foot view corridor from the highway to the lake ” something that is absent from the Crown Motel’s current layout of buildings and blacktop.

“We’re just kind of a mish-mash of buildings and colors,” Ferrari said.

At a presentation he gave Tuesday morning to community leaders and business owners at a meeting at Granlibakken, Ferrari conceded that the existing buildings are not all that attractive.

Ferrari is applying to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Community Enhancement Program, which seeks out innovative development to meet environmental and community goals. If accepted into the program, Ferrari said he would begin the project’s environmental review phase early next year.

Placer County Deputy Director of Redevelopment Rae James said the Ferrari project conforms with redevelopment goals and objectives.

“You know, Dave always said it best. His family has been here for decades, and he says he has very much an obligation and responsibility to the Kings Beach community to give them the best design that he can,” James said. “Right now, we feel that he’s doing a pretty good job.”

Preliminary plans call for a three-story building on the property’s lakeside and a four-story structure on the highway. The increased density would allow the project to offer view corridors and increase beach access, while also creating more units to make the project economically worthwhile, Ferrari said.

“I think anything that what you’re going to see happen in Kings Beach is going to need [density and taller buildings] because we’re building on such small land,” he said.

Plans also include a pedestrian bridge that would connect the Ferrari property on both sides of Highway 28, a feature that would improve pedestrian safety and disability access. Ferrari said the bridge would have to be an attractive structure that could act as a gateway into the commercial core area. Otherwise, he told fellow business owners at the Granlibakken meeting, the bridge “is going to be a tough thing for the community.”