Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Bear Valley Mountain Resort operators are looking for investors to help launch a major expansion of Bear Valley Village.

The addition of more than 300 condominiums, a new lodge, a chair lift from the village to the mountaintop and an outdoor amphitheater in Bear Valley gained final approval Dec. 18 from Alpine County supervisors meeting in Markleeville. The site is just off Highway 4 in western Alpine County.

Shortly after purchasing the resort operation on Stanislaus National Forest lands, as well as much of the village's real estate, in 2005, partners led by Colorado-based Dundee Development Corp. began the permitting and entitlement phase of the expansion plan. That came to fruition with last month's vote, less than a month after an expansion of ski operations at the resort also cleared a final hurdle.

"After many years of very hard work, we have completed the entitlement phase and are now moving into the investment cycle. It is very exciting after all this time to be able to actually start thinking about what we can do, instead of working through regulatory issues," said Greg Finch, the managing partner of Bear Valley Resorts. "All the groundwork for a spectacular development has been laid. This will be one of the jewels of the Sierra."

The partnership is now "actively at work securing the capital needed to fund the planned expansion," Finch added.

"We're quite confident that we will secure funding for the expansion. Bear Valley represents one of the last great development opportunities in the Sierra. It is the closest multifacet resort to many of the residents of the Bay Area, and will forever feel uncrowded and unspoiled," he said. "Completing all these entitlements is a huge accomplishment, but it is just the start. Any meaningful next steps will require a great deal of capital and we want to build on our current momentum."

Finch said he is encouraged by a stabilization in local real estate markets.

Alpine County Supervisor and Bear Valley real estate agent Terry Woodrow said the expansion could bring a major lift to the vitality of the community.

"I don't see the future expansion as changing anything about the unique mountain village living experience that Bear Valley families now enjoy,"Woodrow said. "In addition, it will introduce more families to the area and will help expand economic opportunities in our region … ."

"I see Bear Valley Mountain as one those rare gems that with a caring group of investors can pursue a renovation and expansion plan that will create a truly unique destination," added Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Area Association and a long-time CEO at Kirkwood, another major Alpine County ski area on Highway 88.