Opinion: What will become of the Crown motel property at North Tahoe?
San Francisco-based developer Laulima Partners completed its purchase on May 24 of a 4.5-acre plot of land on both sides of Highway 28 in Kings Beach previously owned by Ferrari family, which includes the lakefront Ferrari Crown Resort at 8200 North Lake Blvd. With the purchase, Laulima is looking to propose a commercial-residential redevelopment project.
As I sit down to write, I don’t know what is about to come out of me regarding the sale of Ferrari’s Crown Motel, but I do know that a piece of everything good in North Lake Tahoe and Kings Beach has, maybe inevitably, changed.
As the first July 3rd celebration in 60 years is about to commence without this amazing family’s pride and joy, I find myself filled with questions and uncertainty. What will happen with this sacred Kings Beach tradition of family, inclusion and love?
This place is, and always has been, much more than a place to rest your head on a pillow at the end of the day. It was built by a hardworking family who put its heart and soul into it. It became the pillar of a community, bridging the gaps between race and fiscal differences.
The Crown’s third of July celebration and BBQ brought young and old, locals and guests together and fed a community while at the same time raising funds for the Boys and Girls Club that Dave Ferrari himself helped found.
I would love to know the percentage of locals from Incline Village to Homewood who haven’t, at some point, spent some time at the Crown Motel, and was made to feel at home, from the second they stepped onto the property. If you haven’t, you don’t know what you missed.
This place and this family have taught me how to work hard, love and accept myself, my family, my community, the less fortunate, and how the responsibility of my privileged life is to do the same for others.
The Crown has always been mostly filled by the same families vacationing in paradise. They didn’t show up, year after year, generation after generation because it was The Waldorf Astoria. They came because they weren’t only treated as family, they ARE family.
They will always be family. They go to Ferrari family weddings, and invite them to theirs. They babysat each other’s children. And they shared a whole lot of sunsets and glasses of wine. I have absolutely no doubt, they feel the same sense of loss that we as a family do.
The Crown was the obvious site for birthday parties, Thanksgivings, Christmases, wedding parties and receptions, Little League end-of season parties and much more. It was our gathering place; it was our rock.
Each and every one of these occasions brought famiglia, both blood and by association, in huge numbers. It’s the kitchen where thousands of ravioli were made, by hand, with love, one by one for my sister’s wedding reception.
It’s the place I earned my first dollar, sweeping from the street to the beach morning after morning for my arcade funds. It’s where I learned to swim, it’s where my nephews now swim.
It’s where a young Bennie Ferrari, with his glasses, turtlenecks and curly hair lived and worked. Where a lot of the family has lived and worked. Where the great-grandchildren of its founders have worked, with pride.
I remember a third of July about five years ago. During the celebration before the fireworks to celebrate our independence, a Mexican family who lives in a neighboring home to the Crown has a mariachi band playing and celebrating as well.
The Ferraris, always with impeccable timing and always thinking how they can connect people, walked to their home and invited them to join the Crown celebration. Here you have an Italian family, an American community and a Mexican family all gathered around this mariachi band.
And it was joyous and natural. This community gathered around each other, as it tends to do, sang and danced, enjoyed American food and Mexican beer together and created a memory for myself and those gathered around we’ll never forget. That’s what this place was.
I will be traveling to Kings Beach this year with my family. But I’m worried they might not get to experience it as it was. This is in no way an assault on the new owners.
I have no doubt the Ferraris would not have sold to anyone but good people. And I’m sure they’ll do what’s best for themselves, the property and its employees, many of whom still work there.
This is more a reflection and a celebration to one of the greatest places in the world. A place I called home. A place that will always be my home.
Carlos B. Blandino grew up in Kings Beach and now lives in Vancouver, Wash., with his girlfriend and her three children.