Lake Elsinore seeks operator to run its La Laguna Resort

Lake Elsinore is seeking a contractor to upgrade and operate an 85-acre shoreline property that the city envisions as a future magnet for boating, camping and recreational vehicle enthusiasts.

“It’s a high priority for us,” City Manager Grant Yates said in a recent interview. “It’s a great way to open up the lake.”

The city is seeking bids from companies interested in becoming the investor and concessionaire for its La Laguna Resort. The name is derived from Rancho La Laguna, which was the Spanish land grant that once blanketed much of the region.

The centerpiece of the site is an $8 million, six-lane boat launch facility that the city completed at the north end of the lake about a year ago. The freshwater lake, where bodily contact is allowed, attracted an estimated 145,000 visitors in 2011, according to city records. About 28,000 boats were launched into the lake that year.

“We have something really special there,” said Mayor Robert Magee.

The city released its request for qualifications in late December, and the deadline calls for bids to be submitted by April 25. The approval timeline calls for a recommendation to be presented to the City Council in June and a possible decision in August.

The lakefront area, which once operated as a state park, currently includes 175 partially-developed RV campsites and 180 sites that would be available for use by tent campers.

In exchange for operating rights of 25 years or more, the city wants the investor to increase the number of campsites and construct a swimming pool, grocery store, recreation center and laundry room, restrooms and showers, tennis and basketball courts and a pedestrian walkway.

The necessary private investment, which might total about $20 million, could help return Lake Elsinore to its status as a destination vacation spot for local and distant families, officials said.

“It’s a great way to get people excited about coming to Lake

Elsinore,” Yates said.

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