New owners pledge to restore Clear Lake’s storied Konocti Harbor Resort

Konocti Harbor Resort, once a premier concert destination that featured big-name stars, has new owners who hope to restore the glory days of the venerable but timeworn property on the west shore of Clear Lake.

The new owners paid about $5 million for the nearly 100-acre resort, closed since 2009, on the expansive lake sometimes called 'the jewel of Lake County.'

A representative of the owners, whose individual names were not disclosed, will soon begin a two- to five-year restoration of the Kelseyville resort, including renovation of the main lodge, which will feature a 1,400-seat indoor theater, restaurant, two bars and the resort's business offices.

An aging two-story hotel on the waterfront will be demolished and replaced in the same footprint by boat storage garages on the ground floor and about 50 hotel suites on the second floor. Plans include another 200 guest suites on the property.

A new marina, including docks, fueling equipment, a bar and grill, and a retail store serving boaters and anglers also will be part of the project's first phase, targeted for reopening in the spring of 2020, said Russ Hamel, managing director of the resort and its new owners, Clear Lake Resort Services, LLC.

'We're excited to begin the revitalization of this iconic Lake County landmark,' Hamel said in a statement, describing a 'plan to bring life back into a resort that once loomed large as a Northern California destination of choice.'

Hamel declined to identify the new owners by name and to say how much money they planned to invest in the renovation. The purchase price was $5 million, according to county records.

'The owners have history and fond memories of spending time on Clear Lake with their own families,' he said in an email. 'They've owned other properties on the lake and have always had a fondness for the area in general.'

The future of the resort's popular 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater remains uncertain, as the structure needs major repairs, he said.

The articles of incorporation for Clear Lake Resort Services, LLC, filed with the California Secretary of State Jan. 26, were signed by Thomas Saberi, a South San Francisco attorney. Saberi referred questions about the deal to Hamel.

The deed for the sale of Konocti Harbor Resort was filed with the Lake County Recorder March 21. It listed the new owners as Shekou Management LLC, spouses Andy and Zaida Saberi and Thomas Saberi. Joe Shekou of San Rafael was listed by the Secretary of State's office as agent for Shekou Management, LLC.

Hamel said the resort will be operated by Clear Lake Resort Services, which supplanted Shekou Management during the property purchase process.

Konocti Harbor Resort, one of the North Coast's major entertainment and recreation venues in its heyday before Native American casinos dotted the region, was shuttered in 2009 as the recession hit Lake County hard.

A previous developer's plan to buy and revive the facility fell apart in 2014 through lack of investor funding, frustrating local officials' hopes for new jobs and tax revenue.

In its prime, the resort located about 125 miles northeast of San Francisco was a regular summer stop for country stars including Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood. Chris Isaak, Ray Charles, the Beach Boys and Earth, Wind & Fire also performed there.

It was owned for a half century by Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen, which was forced to sell in 2009 as part of a court settlement.

Hamel said in an email it was too soon to talk about future entertainment, other than saying 'we do intend to offer quality entertainment at the resort.'

Entertainment will initially be staged in the resort's indoor theater 'as part of the overall resort experience,' he said.

The outdoor amphitheater is 'structurally and mechanically unsound to a point where it's unusable' and in need of major improvements, he said.

Architectural plans for the resort's renovation are in the works and will require city and county approval, Hamel said.

'I can say that our focus is on developing a full service, quality, waterfront experience that will include water sports, boating, fishing, swimming, other aquatic and social activities and the improved lodging, restaurant and bar experience, of course,' he said.

There are no immediate plans to build condominiums or homes on the property, Hamel said.

Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown, whose district includes the resort, said he and six staffers met Friday with Hamel at the county courthouse to discuss issues involved in restoration of the aging facility.

The county is ready to send staff from various departments, including community development, code enforcement, environmental health and the fire department, to survey the resort and advise Hamel's group on what needs to be done to bring structures built decades ago up to current standards, Brown said.

The supervisor said he was 'still not completely clear' on the new owners' plans but hopes to see a full restoration, including concerts that draw large crowds.

'The way it was before was great,' he said. 'They filled the place up,' drawing overflow crowds that booked rooms at other motels.

A vibrant lakeside resort would provide jobs and 'would definitely boost the image of the county,' Brown said. 'We always need that.'

The county is committed to assisting the project in any way it can, he said.

Joe Casteel, president of the 460-member Lake County Chamber of Commerce, said he is not yet counting on a renewal because prospective buyers of the resort have come and gone in the past.

Numerous businesses suffered when the resort closed nearly a decade ago and some are still feeling the pinch, he said.

'If it comes back in all its glory it's going to improve businesses around it' and draw new businesses to the lake, Casteel said, providing an economic boost to a county battered by wildfires for the past three years.

Restaurants, lodging facilities, gas stations and marinas would benefit directly, and if the resort once again employed hundreds of workers they would buy or rent homes and spend money on groceries and other goods, he said.

Konocti Harbor Resort's closure in 2009 came as Lake County was reeling from rising unemployment, and bankruptcy and foreclosure rates, along with slumping tourism revenue.

The facility had employed about 100 full-time workers, and during the peak season hired an additional 500 part-time workers, a substantial segment of a county economy that employed some 25,000 people at the time.

Lake County today has a workforce of nearly 30,000 people and a 5.7 percent unemployment rate, compared with 3 percent in Sonoma County with a workforce of more than 264,000. From 2009, when the resort closed, to 2014, when the proposed resort purchase fell apart, county revenue from taxes on overnight accommodations declined by half to about $500,000 a year, officials said.

The vacant property has suffered from years of neglect, according to Casteel and Kathy Wayland, a Lake County real estate agent who represented the new owners and said she had been working to close a deal for nearly 10 years.

Wayland declined to name the buyers, but described them as 'visionaries' who are capable of restoring the resort and 'make it make sense.'

Hamel acknowledged there had been 'quite a bit of deferred maintenance' on the resort since 2009 that now needs to be addressed with repairs and removal of some facilities.

Ironically, improvements made about 24 years ago, including the 5,000-seat amphitheater, were the resort's undoing.

The U.S. Department of Labor contended that Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen — owner of the resort since 1959 — had mishandled members' benefit plans by diverting an estimated $36 million into renovating and operating the resort.

The federal department sued and forced the union to sell as part of a settlement. A Florida group, WhiteStar Advisors LLC, was appointed by the court to manage the sale.

A WhiteStar representative signed off on the deed transfer filed last week.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or On Twitter @guykovner.

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