Capital Projects > Timeline > Cross Country Ski Center
Cross Country Ski Center
As any homeowner knows, saving up for a remodel over the last few years has been difficult at best. But at Tahoe Donner Association, fiscally prudent practices have allowed sufficient growth in the development fund, an account established for use in the improvement of or addition to existing facilities due to changing needs in the community. To this end, the board of directors recently gave the green light to begin detailed planning to build a new Cross Country Ski Center as outlined in the 2030 General Plan.
This decision was in recognition that our operation has outgrown our current Cross Country Ski Center, and addresses an ongoing desire to update our facilities to meet customers’ needs as well as to support the future well-being of the association.
“The new Cross Country Ski Center will provide an increased service level for our homeowners and guests by providing ample programs and area for winter and summer operations alike,” said Miguel Sloane, director of operations for Tahoe Donner Association.
The new facility will be developed on the same footprint as the existing building and will include increased parking capacity. The building itself will allow for a bigger rental operation, larger kitchen, expanded retail space, more seating both inside and out, a member’s locker room, and an additional multi-purpose room for educational purposes.
Ideas for the project have been in the works for some time, according to Sloane. While initial conversations began years ago, planning began in earnest in 2011. In late 2012, after several architect presentations, the Tahoe Donner Association board of directors approved a local Truckee firm, Dale Cox Architects, to be the architect of record.
Cox, who was also responsible for the design of the Tahoe Donner marina building and the original Trout Creek facility, said his team wanted to be involved with the Cross Country Ski Center project so they could continue to contribute to the look and feel of the community and because it will be a significant building for Tahoe Donner.
Forrest Huisman, director of capital projects for Tahoe Donner, Cox and other key players recently made time to answer a few questions about this exciting new project.
Q. Where have we been and what’s next?
A. Starting in January of 2010, Tahoe Donner management and the General Plan Committee, comprised of interested homeowners, Tahoe Donner staff, and no more than two board members, began holding town hall meetings in order to solicit feedback about future capital development in the association. The meetings continued through the spring of that year, and that input, as well as data from the 2009 demographic survey and direction from management was compiled into the 2030 General Plan for the association.
Last July, Huisman sent out an RFP, or request for proposal, to begin the search for an architect based on a scope of work established by our board with input from the General Plan Committee and homeowners. Qualifications were received by local firms; each group presented their artistic vision based on budget, scale, and materiality. After site plans, floor plans, and interior and exterior perspectives from each group were reviewed, Dale Cox Architects was chosen to be the architect of record.
Cox and his team began meeting with a board-approved steering committee to hear their input, desires and needs for the facility in order to develop schematics and floor plan layouts. Huisman says the team has gone through several versions and is close to finalizing a draft floor plan that meets operational needs.
After collecting public input on the draft floor plan, the next step, according to Huisman, is to start pre-construction services with a general contractor. “This will be a good litmus test. With future construction costs defined, we’ll have a much better perspective on estimated costs for this new facility and will be able to make adjustments as necessary,” he said.
Once the concept has been finalized by the board, the team will start meeting with the Town of Truckee and other agencies. Cox notes this process should take most of the summer.
The goal, said Huisman, is to begin construction in May of 2014 and open for business in November of the same year, with full completion in early 2015.
Q. Why is the Cross Country Ski Center a priority?
A. The current Cross Country Ski Center has operated at or above capacity during peak periods in recent years. While our terrain can absorb this higher capacity, our facility cannot. The new center will allow us to address customer service issues such as long lines, limited parking, and overcrowded seating areas. In addition, the project includes smart design concepts based on customer and staff feedback and will integrate usage for school teams, young children, and educational purposes.
“Our cross country operation continues to be a popular and well-respected amenity not only in Tahoe, but also within the industry as a whole,” said Sally Jones, manager of Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center. “We really want to make sure what we’re designing is functional and has the right amount of space to accommodate current demand, but also gives us room to grow,” she said, adding that she has been meeting with the architects and the steering committee every other week.
Q. What will the new building look like?
A. “Our vision is to create a mountain lodge with timbers, stone and wood siding. It will be very traditional and fitting for the location and the community,” Cox explained, adding that he is looking forward to receiving homeowner feedback from the two town hall meetings that will take place later this month (see details below).
Q. Where will the money come from?
A. It’s important to note that no special assessment has or will take place for this project, and that all construction and related costs will be covered by the development fund portion of the association’s budget. A percentage of every Tahoe Donner homeowner’s annual assessment is earmarked for capital projects, and this fund has now grown to a sufficient amount, allowing for the realization of this project. The cost of the new facility is estimated at approximately $5 million, until final construction costs are completed.
Having funds to maintain existing infrastructure, make improvements to buildings and grounds, and build new facilities is a very important component of any homeowners association. For Tahoe Donner, this fund helps to keep our organization viable by preserving the safety and maintenance of our amenities as well as the desirability and resale value of homes in our community.
Q. Are there any environmental sensitivities?
A. The most sensitive component to the project, according to Huisman, is that construction will be constrained on most sides by wetland zones.
“Working within those confines is not only a requirement from our local agencies, but it’s also the right thing to do,” Huisman said, adding that our architects and consultants are confident that we can proceed in ways that will not infringe on these adjacent wetlands.
Q. When will it be completed?
A. The Cross Country Ski Center will open for the 2014-2015 ski season in the fall of 2014, but because of the time constraints of building the new lodge on the same site of the existing lodge, all areas won’t be fully operational until early 2015.
“We looked at both options – either choosing a site adjacent to the existing facility, and then tearing down the old lodge when the project is complete, or building on the existing footprint,” Huisman explained. “We chose the most efficient and cost-effective approach, but it does put us in the position to be semi-open in fall of 2014, with full completion in early 2015.”
Despite the partial opening, management and staff plan to minimize potential inconveniences by providing temporary infrastructure to maintain service levels throughout this transition.
Q. Will homeowners have a say in the project?
A. In addition to two town hall meetings held in 2012, homeowner viewpoints (from cross country sub-group meetings) have been considered since the project’s inception. Recommendations from the General Plan Committee, whose meetings are open to all Tahoe Donner homeowners, are also taken into consideration.
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