WILSHIRE BLVD — The owners of the historic Fairmont Miramar have big plans for the luxury hotel, including adding 12 times the current retail space, building condos for sale, as well as affordable housing, all while reducing the number of rooms available for guests.

Representatives with the hotel unveiled their plans last week during a meeting of Downtown Santa Monica Inc., formerly known as the Bayside District Corp. The entity manages and markets Downtown for City Hall.

As it stands, the plans would reduce the number of hotel rooms available from 302 to 265, but nearly every other dimension of the building would expand to include nearly 12 times the amount of retail space and nearly three times the current number of parking spaces.

Although there would be fewer rental rooms, some condominium-style spaces would be available to buy, as well as affordable housing in keeping with Santa Monica policy.

Food and beverage space would triple, and the plans currently include an acre of open space in the form of the Miramar Gardens, which would be open to the public when not being used for private hotel events.

The entrance would move from Wilshire Boulevard to Second Street, and feature a 95-foot-tall window that would frame the landmark Moreton Bay fig tree, which is the second largest of its kind in California.

Current plans put a bar and pool on the roof with open views in every direction to take advantage of the ocean and mountain vistas.

The 1927 Palisades building would be preserved, and the remaining architecture is designed to complement the older building while including modern touches, including step backs, to make the building appear smaller than it actually is.

The community is passionate about the 85-year-old building, and the owners want to be sensitive to public commentary, said Alan Epstein, an executive with MSD Capital.

“The goal is to create a timeless landmark for Santa Monica,” Epstein said.

Although the company has been talking about fixing up the Miramar for over a year, plans are still preliminary and more work needs to be done before MSD Capital pursues a development agreement with City Hall.

Plans put the height of the building at 138 feet, 3 feet taller than the current building.

It will still be shorter than several surrounding buildings by several stories.

Planners haven’t yet worked out an exact number of parking spaces that will be available, but it will far exceed the 160 that the hotel currently offers, allowing hotel workers and guests to park in designated spots rather than use available street parking.

The open space, including the gardens, is a blank canvas, Epstein said, in response to a comment by Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek regarding water efficient landscaping.

“We’re just getting out of the gates,” Epstein said.

According to a study by an economic impact consulting group, the hotel would generate $8 million in new revenues for city coffers.

After construction begins, the project will take anywhere from 18 to 21 months to complete.

Community members and Downtown Santa Monica Inc. board members praised the project and the developer for embracing the spirit of the building, noting that the new design was “respectful.”

“It’s fantastic, I think you’ve done a great job,” said board member Barbara Tenzer, a commercial real estate broker.

The corporation will move forward with an application for a development agreement in the near future.


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