New owner has grand plans for Huntington Lake’s ‘happy place’

The Lakeshore Resort at Huntington Lake has been sold to a new owner. Image via Google Earth

published on January 20, 2022 – 11:37 AM
Written by Edward Smith

The new face behind a once-popular resort at Huntington Lake has a vision to restore it to a full-service attraction, but a lot of work remains to prepare it for guests.

Lakeshore Resort began as workforce housing for builders of the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project 100 years ago. The 32-acre complex of restaurants, cabins, a general store and RV park became an attraction that enchanted visitors for decades.

New owners Levon Nargizyan and his wife Diana Ashikyan of Sherman Oaks first visited Huntington Lake in 2005, Nargizyan said. They found Lakeshore while looking for a place to socialize and returned several times before its closure a couple years ago.

It was Marcia Beach with Re/Max Gold in Shaver Lake who made the sale possible, Nargizyan said.

What Nargizyan wants for Lakeshore is a “family-friendly environment — one that will serve its community. A place where you won’t be bored but you can relax all you want,” Nargizyan said.

In addition to the already existing facilities, Nargizyan said he wants a pool, spa, outdoor event center, volleyball court, zip line, restaurant, gym, sport shop and gas station, as well as an event center and banquet hall.

The mountain resort’s history has been one of peaks and valleys. It began in 1922 as housing for dam workers. The first phase was constructed by Harry Allen, the same man who paved the way for Kaiser Pass Road, one of the highest roads in California at 9,196 feet.

Allen then lost the resort to a cattleman named J.C. Walling, according to the resort’s website. Walling then added an office and lodge halls. Gas rationing during World War II made visiting the mountains more difficult and by 1945, ownership had changed again to the Edward and Vandergrif families, who owned it until 1976.

From 1976 to 1984, the resort changed hands three times as did the name; becoming Alpine Village then Canadian Village before the most recent owners, Stephen and Melinda Sherry, bought it from bankruptcy and restored it in 1987.

From there, it became a hot spot for Huntington Lake cabin owners and their visitors, according to Bob Comstock, president of the Condo Association at Huntington Lake and chairman of the High Sierra Regata.

People would attend the dances in the area and would dine and drink there.

Owner Stephen Sherry was not immediately available for comment.

Now, Nargizyan says it will take an extensive overhaul to reconstruct the resort and “a huge amount of support from the community for it to be placed back in the spotlight.”

An inspection by the Fresno County Department of Public Health in August 2020 closed food and bar operations due to “major Health & Safety Code violations,” including vermin infestation, sewage problems, buildup and food and grease in food preparation areas, as well as electrical hazards.

The resort has not had a required Special Use Permit issued by the National Forest Service since 2007, according to county officials.

It would only be a month after the August inspection that the 2020 Creek Fire would threaten Lakeshore Resort. The Los Angeles Times reported that even as Huntington and Shaver lakes were evacuated, owner Stephen Sherry remained on the property to keep it safe.

Business owners and homeowners in the area look at Lakeshore Resort as a place for residents and guests to relax and enjoy themselves.

Nargizyan says he couldn’t comment on a specific timeframe for getting Lakeshore up and running. He is hoping to get historic status for the property and wants to keep the buildings in their original form. But moving the project forward is dependent on how quickly the U.S. Forest Service and the County of Fresno can sign off, he said.

“It will take more than a year to get plans approved,” he said.

And while Nargizyan says wildfires pose existential threats to the entire mountain community, he believes the restoration of Lakeshore “is a must for the community.”

“It is the happy place for Huntington Lake,” Nargizyan said. “Lakeshore is the heart and soul of Huntington Lake.”


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