MAIN LIBRARY— Residents voiced opposition to the height and the inclusion of condominiums, but lauded the aesthetic design of the proposed plans to replace the former Holiday Inn at a public meeting with hotel owners Thursday night.
Owners hope to replace the eight-story hotel on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Second Street, now a Wyndham brand, with three new buildings, including a 195-foot, 15-story tower that would offer 211 guest rooms, 25 condos, and a publicly accessible rooftop terrace. The proposed hotel would include on-site or off-site affordable housing as part of a package of community benefits.
Santa Monica is in the middle of formulating a vision for the future of development in Downtown, and planners are studying the environmental impact of future buildings at 84 feet tall. The Wyndham proposal is one of at least five hotel projects in Downtown coming before City Hall for approval.
Meyera Robbins, who lives north of Montana Avenue, called the project beautiful before explaining that condos set an undesirable precedent.
“There are a lot of developers right now who are trying to get very tall buildings, much taller than yours, and it’s a big concern in this city from the residents,” she said.
Tom Corcoran, chairman of Felcor Lodging, which purchased the site in 2004, defended the condos.
“It’s very expensive to build in Santa Monica, so what this does is reduce the total cost,” he said. “When people talk about community benefits, that comes from money, it comes from resources … . We’ve looked at doing it without condos. We’ve looked at other ways of doing it, and it just makes it financially unfeasible.”
“It’s your hotel, you bought it,” Robbins responded from the audience. “That’s the problem we come up with all the time: People put all the millions of dollars into the building and then want to improve it real fast at the residents’ expense.”
The proposed hotel, which would open in 2018, could bring in $3.5 million in additional tax money for the city, a Felcor representative said.
Resident Taffy Patton called it a “beautiful hotel” but questioned the need for the main tower, citing the profitable four-story Shore Hotel and seven-story Shutters on the Beach Hotel.
“Residents have made it really clear: We don’t want towers in Santa Monica,” she said. “Even beautiful towers like this one.”
Debra Feldman, vice president of development at Felcor, responded by pointing out that Shutters was built 30 years ago, and that Felcor has to tear down an existing structure.
“If we scrape the site, we are writing off $60 million,” Feldman said. “So we’re starting with a $60 million cost, because that is what the hotel is worth today.”
Andrew Hoyer, president of Mid-City Neighbors, called the plans “fabulous” and praised Felcor’s commitment to union labor, but went on to say he thought it was too tall and called the expensive condos “offensive.”
“You’ve kind of changed my opinions about tall buildings, due to your location,” he said. “You have a site where you’re not going to be impacting very many people.
“However, I do think it’s a little tall,” he said. “I think it’s a few floors too many on the last tower… I’ll stand behind your hotel if you’ll lower it just a little. Lose a couple of those floors and get rid of the condos, personally, I will advocate for this hotel.”