Plans to revamp and reopen what once was Lake County's premier resort and entertainment venue has received a major boost from county officials.

The Lake County Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a major use permit and a shoreline variance that will allow developers to expand and rehabilitate the Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, which closed in 2009.

The developers, Resort Equities LLC, have said their purchase of the property is partly contingent upon approval of the permits.

"It's an important step," said Grant Sedgwick, president of Resort Equities LLC. The next one is securing financing, he said.

He said the negotiated price won't be revealed until after the purchase is complete. The original asking price was $15 million. The improvements are expected to cost about $80 million, Sedgwick said.

The county permits will allow Resort Equities to tear down some buildings, rebuild piers and construct more than 200 new hotel rooms and time-share units.

They also include increasing the number of boat slips from about 100 to 275 and building a party deck and promenade.

The developers hope to have the improvements partially completed and reopen by the summer of 2015, Sedgwick said.

Before its closure, the resort had the largest concert venue on the North Coast and was a major tourist draw in Lake County. Thousands attended the final outdoor concert in October 2009 that featured the country musical group Rascal Flatts.

In addition to generating visitors and bed tax, the resort was one of the county's largest private employers with almost 600 workers, most of them part time or seasonal.

County officials have welcomed the developers and their plans to revive the resort. "I'm looking forward to Konocti Harbor moving forward," said Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown. The resort is within his district.

The resort has been owned by Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen since 1959. Improvements made after 1993, including the outdoor amphitheater, proved to be controversial and led to the sale of the resort.

The U.S. Department of Labor sued the union and forced a sale as part of a settlement. It contended the union mishandled members' benefit plans by diverting an estimated $36 million into renovating and operating the resort.

(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.)