Related and nonprofit to truck 248 affordable homes to Lake Tahoe

Short building season necessitates modular components from Vallejo, 160 miles away

How did Related California and St. Joseph Community Land Trust solve a tight building season for the biggest affordable housing project in Lake Tahoe? Truck the homes from 160 miles away.

The Irvine-based developer and the Lake Tahoe, Nevada-based nonprofit are having 248 modular homes built at Factory OS in Vallejo and shipped to 1029 Tata Lane and 1860 Lake Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

When complete, the nine-building complex known as Sugar Pine Village will contain 248 affordable homes, most set aside for households earning less than 60 percent of area median income. It will also feature two community centers.

The 11.4-acre project was made possible because of an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom to use state surplus land for affordable housing. The state will retain ownership of the land through a long-term ground lease to the developer.

The problem for the developers was time.

To protect Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency prohibits grading and digging from October to May.

But with 1,000 households on the waiting list for the area’s affordable housing, the developers couldn’t afford to limit construction to the summer months.

So the unit of New York-based Related Companies and the nonprofit trust elected to have Factory OS build modular homes at its Mare Island plant in Vallejo, then truck the mostly finished homes to the project site. 

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In South Lake Tahoe, construction crews inside the plastic-wrapped homes hang drywall and install windows in the first phase of the development. So far, 200 families have signed onto an “interest list” for Sugar Pine Village, which is expected to open the first 68 homes in September. 

Meanwhile, Factory OS builds the last of the modular homes, which are trucked through Sparks and Reno and down the east shore of the lake before arriving at Heavenly ski resort, where they are stored until they’re ready to be placed. 

The trucks fit through “Cave Rock,” a dual-bore highway tunnel on Highway 50, with inches to spare on each side.

Phase 2, with 60 units, is expected to open in fall 2025, according to the project website.

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South Lake Tahoe is the only incorporated city in the Lake Tahoe Basin and has traditionally been more affordable than towns on the north side of the lake, according to the Chronicle.

But, during the pandemic and the boom years leading up to it, median home prices around Lake Tahoe skyrocketed to $950,000 in 2021,  from $345,000 in 2012, according to a report from the Tahoe Prosperity Center.

— Dana Bartholomew