THIRD STREET — Residents near a hotel at Washington Avenue and Third Street are beginning to rally in opposition to the new owners’ application to serve alcohol at the establishment, which they say is inappropriate in a residential neighborhood.
The business, 1001 3rd Street, LLC., filed an application with City Hall to allow guests of the Palihouse Santa Monica — formerly the Embassy Hotel and Apartments — to purchase alcohol on premises and from mini-bars located in their hotel rooms.
The hotel also wishes to include a bar in the lobby that could sell alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. for guests to enjoy in the lobby or patios.
The bar would be solely for the use of hotel guests and their visitors, not for passersby, said Matt Fisher, executive vice president of Paligroup, the company that owns the Palihouse brand.
“We want to enhance our guests’ experience. That’s what this is all about,” Fisher said.
The 38-room Palihouse Santa Monica, which has rooms starting at $299 per night, is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with multifamily apartment buildings in front and immediately adjacent to it, and a nursing facility located across Washington Avenue.
Neighbors like Laura Wilson believe that the hotel’s commitment to the “guests’ experience” will trump the needs of residents, who are used to the quiet neighborhood in which they live.
“I don’t want to see any alcohol served in a residential neighborhood,” Wilson said. “It’s not an appropriate place for large parties, weddings or big birthday parties.”
Wilson points to Palihouse Santa Monica’s sister property in West Hollywood, which she says is used for loud parties despite its proximity to a residential neighborhood.
The Palihouse Santa Monica aims to serve longer-term clients, often businesspeople looking to spend more than just a few days in a given location. To do so, it provides full kitchens and a large refrigerator in its rooms.
Fisher believes these kinds of guests will have the same concerns about noise and disruption as residents.
“Any concern that they would have is one that we would have,” Fisher said.
Gale Feldman has lived in an apartment complex separated from the Palihouse Santa Monica by a thin alleyway for the last 20 years. She now has a 2-year-old daughter, whose nap times are a source of either blessed rest or a brief moment for chores.
She’s worried that alcohol service at the hotel would lead to problems reminiscent of The Parlor, a sports bar opposed by many members of the Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition, or Wilmont, which complained that the business, formerly on Wilshire Boulevard, had brought noisy, drunken crowds into quiet neighborhoods.
The Parlor eventually closed, reportedly because City Hall cut hours in which it could sell alcohol, which hurt the business’ bottom line, and Wilson is seeking Wilmont’s help for the Palihouse situation.
Such an atmosphere would certainly make life difficult for her and her young daughter, not to mention the elderly people who live across the street, Feldman said.
“My bathroom windows opens up to (the Palihouse Santa Monica),” Feldman said. “If they start having parties, serving alcohol, it will affect the peace and quiet for me and my daughter.”
She’s also worried about a proposed valet service, which would allow guests to drop their cars off in front of the hotel to be spirited away to an off-site parking lot.
The only way that the hotel could mollify her is if the owners promise that they will not make significant changes to hotel operations, and that they give up the idea of alcohol service, Feldman said.
The new owners bought the hotel in December 2012 for $18 million, according to the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office.
Prior to 2011, half of the property’s units had been rent-controlled apartments. That ended in the summer of 2011 when the City Attorney’s Office, Rent Control Board and owners of the Embassy reached a settlement agreement which gave residents’ four years to leave the apartments and collect relocation benefits.
They also had the opportunity to negotiate buyouts with the ownership to leave early.
A hearing on the alcohol request has not yet been set.