Squaw’s Intrawest village still moving forward | SierraSun.com
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Squaw’s Intrawest village still moving forward

JOELLE BABULA, Sun News Service

OLYMPIC VALLEY – Plans for the Intrawest village in Squaw Valley may not exactly be on track, but they are still moving steadily forward.

Because the project is still waiting final approval, the construction of the village will not begin this spring as originally planned.

According to Tom Jacobson, the vice president of Resort Development group for Intrawest, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project is not yet complete, but he’s hoping to have the document out to the public for review in the next couple of months.

The EIR has taken longer then originally planned because the water source for the village that was documented didn’t pan out.

“We had to figure out where our water was going to come from,” Jacobson said. “The plan was to tap water in the valley that didn’t require treatment.”

After further investigation, however, a treatment facility will be necessary to meet both the existing and future demands of the village, Jacobson said.

“The Squaw Valley Public Service District is now developing a plan to put in a treatment facility,” Jacobson said. “The water issue had to be resolved before the environmental document could be completed.”

After the EIR is released and the public has a chance to review the document, Placer County will respond to the comments and then the final EIR will be completed.

“The final EIR goes to the Placer County Planning Commission,” Jacobson said. “They will have a public hearing and either certify it, reject it or certify it with conditions.”

If the EIR is certified by the county, the project still has to obtain the final permits and approvals from water quality agencies, building agencies, etc., Jacobson said. “And then we can break ground.”

According to Jacobson, in December 1996, Intrawest announced its plans to build the village in cooperation with Squaw Valley Ski Corp.

The village, which will be built on half of Squaw Valley’s parking lot (the side closest to the mountain), will resemble an Alpine village with its own unique style.

It will be a pedestrian village with shops and restaurants on the first level and studios and apartments on the second, third and fourth levels.

“These pedestrian villages have been around for a long time,” Jacobson said. “These villages are a real trend right now.”

And Intrawest has been a part of many.

They have built villages in Colorado, Mammoth, British Columbia, Utah and others.

The unique style and theme that will encompass Squaw Valley’s village already has a name, it’s called California Alpine.

“It’s a great mix of Italian Alps architecture with California sunshine mixed in,” Jacobson said. “The architecture is unique, it’s fresh and it’s alive.”

Besides the emphasis on original design for an experience unique to Squaw Valley, Jacobson said the panoramic views of Squaw Valley are also taken into account during the building of the village.

“The rock pile is a phenomenal element of Squaw Valley,” Jacobson said. “We utilize the buildings to frame the views.”

Although the originally scheduled time to begin village construction this spring is not going to happen, the design of phase one, called First Ascent, is underway.

“We’re about 30 percent done with the design for phase one,” Jacobson said. “We can only go so far with design, however, until the environmental documents are done.

“Our goal is to break ground as soon as we get our approvals.”

And once construction begins, three components of this California Alpine village will eventually surface.

The first part of the village includes two levels of underground parking.

The underground parking will add approximately 1,000 parking spaces that will be accessible to both village users and day skiers, Jacobson said.

The second component is the pedestrian level which will be made up entirely of commercial space.

“There are 80 shops and restaurants set for the village, all specifically designed to create an experience,” Jacobson said.

The pedestrian portion of the village includes neighborhoods and themes such as Main Street, Authentic Squaw and Nightlife.

The third part of the village consists of three levels of residential studios and apartments.

These apartments are available for purchase and owners can choose to live in them full time, rent them out, board them up, whatever they want to do, Jacobson said.

“Many buy them as a second home and put them in a rental pool,” Jacobson said.

And, anyone interested in purchasing units, leasing commercial space or simply wanting to learn more about Intrawest and this village can take a walk through the new Discovery Center opening in May. The center, located just south of the Opera House in Squaw Valley, will be staffed with individuals familiar with the village project to answer questions, review slides and pictures and offer real estate on the property.

“We want to get people jazzed about Squaw Valley,” Jacobson said. “This will be a place for locals to go and learn more about the project.”

Phase one of the village takes 18 months to build and the entire project should be complete in five to seven years once construction begins.


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