DOWNTOWN — The Holiday Inn proposed for a facelift in Downtown can expect a change of name now, as well.
The hotel, owned by FelCor Lodging Trust Inc., is one of eight Holiday Inn properties that converted to the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts brand as of March 1.
The Wyndham Hotel Group will provide management services, and each of the eight sites, spread throughout the country, will undergo major renovations, according to a release by FelCor.
FelCor announced the change in January, and has approached City Hall with plans for a 195-foot tower as part of a redevelopment for the site.
The subject popped up at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting when Tom Corcoran, chairman of FelCor’s board, came in person to raise concerns about circulation pieces of the Downtown Specific Plan, a planning effort that will determine how development, pedestrian and vehicular access play out in the Downtown.
Although he came to ensure that guests would have the option to enter and exit the new hotel off of Main Street rather than Colorado Avenue, Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon engaged Corcoran on development plans for the site before Deputy City Attorney Barry Rosenbaum could corral the conversation back to the agendized topic.
McKinnon asked Corcoran at what point the company would give up on plans for so large a development on the site, asserting that the existing Holiday Inn is profitable.
“It does make money, it’s not like we have to do it,” Corcoran said. “It’s just the right thing to do long term.”
For all its prime location overlooking the Pacific Ocean and key position near Downtown, Santa Monica Pier and future Exposition Light Rail terminus, the hotel itself is significantly flawed, Corcoran said.
“Why would you have a building with a wall facing the ocean with no windows?” Corcoran said. “If you do it right, you will enhance the overall appeal to what Santa Monica is doing now in what is now a very ugly building.”
Wyndham Worldwide Corporation promised FelCor $100 million over the 10-year term of the agreement, which includes a renewal option, with an annual guarantee of up to $21.5 million that ensures a minimum operating income for the eight hotels, according to a FelCor release.
“This is a great opportunity for Wyndham Hotel Group to significantly increase our presence without significant capital outlays,” said Eric Danziger, president and CEO of the Wyndham Hotel Group.
More rooms at the inn
The number of proposed new hotels and renovations to existing properties in Santa Monica has boomed over the last year.
The Fairmont Miramar hotel is trying to pull off a rebuild of the majority of its site, and the Worthe Real Estate Group and M. David Paul Associates have proposed a new luxury hotel designed by famed architect Frank Gehry where Santa Monica Boulevard meets Ocean Avenue.
Two moderately-priced hotels — a Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn — are planned for the intersection at Colorado Avenue at Fifth Street, and hotels have been proposed for the Bergamot area.
The City Council also voted in February to consider hotels before other kinds of development for their combination of money-making potential and relatively low traffic impact.
City Hall charges a 14 percent tax on hotel rooms, which generated $36 million in fiscal year 2010-11 for the general fund.
In the summer of 2012, Santa Monica was rated the second most expensive hotel destination in the country by Cheaphotels.org, second only to Newport, R.I. It cost an average $287 to stay in one of Santa Monica’s central hotels, compared to $319 for the eastern town.
Although Santa Monica’s hotels are pricey, they’re almost always booked.
According to the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, hotels boasted an 82 percent occupancy in July 2012, topping projections from 2011 and actuals from 2010 in a report on lodging statistics compiled by PKS Consulting for nearby cities.
Misti Kerns, president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that the Holiday Inn was consistently ranked as one of the best performing hotels in the “upper midscale” segment by Smith Travel Research.
“With a prime location and booming destination, it’s no surprise that another hotel group wanted this property,” she said. “We wish them well and look forward to working with them.”