Mammoth View Project: Our first geothermal hotel

A green light couldn’t get more green.

The “Mammoth View” project, an innovative, 54-room hotel with 24 townhouses and 28 freestanding cabins, complete with a spa building, hot tubs and picnic areas, won a complete victory from the town this past week.

It will have a restaurant and bar, public art, walking areas for just anybody-old-who, and a trolley stop.

It’ll have a walkway in front, along Main Street, a reconfiguration of the stoplight at Main Street and Minaret Road, and bring in about a trillion billion gazillion dollars in transient occupancy tax.

So they say.

If this seems like a pipedream, the Town of Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission this week bought it, hook, line and sinker, including the idea that much of its energy will be via-geothermal heat.

“This is so much better than what you brought to us a year ago,” said commissioner Elizabeth Tenney. “Everything is just so improved.”

The rest of the Commission agreed, voting 4-0 to approve the project.

The hotel-townhouse-condo project, to begin in 2013, is to be built on Alpine Circle and Mountain Boulevard. It is a 5.51-acre acre site, along the north side of Main Street to the east of the intersection with Minaret Road, next to the Viewpoint Condominiums.

The upper portion on the site is about 40 feet above Main Street and is currently developed with the Swiss Chalet and Royal Pines hotels.

But the main selling point at last Wednesday’s meeting was the notion of geothermal energy.
Rick Phelps, of the High Sierra Energy Foundation, was among the project’s strong supporters, who called the plan ‘both visionary and bold.’

“At their risk, the developers took the strong risk of trying to develop geothermal heating as an energy source, and succeeded.

“It is the first time in Mammoth Lakes, after years of talk and millions of federal and state grants.
“This project supports our own mission, of promotion and developing renewable energy and efficiency resources in the High Sierra.

“It will be a showcase for the rest of the nation, operating as a four-season resort community.

“I can’t say what the economic benefit will be, but it will set Mammoth Lakes apart in the practical and economic use of renewable energy.

“And very importantly, Mammoth View will share its approach and findings with others.

“This will be a great project for the town, and will set us apart.”