After hours of commentary from local residents and developers, discussion on the Fairmont Miramar hotel project is set to resume next week after the Santa Monica Planning Commission continued its meeting, which stretched into the late hours of Wednesday evening.
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel project has been in the works for nearly a decade as developers look to revitalize the century-old hotel into a new 500,000-square-foot mixed-use project that includes 312 luxury hotel rooms, up to 60 for-sale residential condominium units and a 14,000 square-foot, publicly accessible open space at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.
The project also intends to provide funding and land that can be used to build a minimum of 42 affordable housing units, which will be located in a five-story apartment building across 2nd Street that will be developed by Community Corporation, the City’s affordable housing provider, according to the commission’s staff report.
Wednesday’s special meeting was called to allow commissioners the chance to recommend a number of actions to Santa Monica City Council so the hotel project could into the next phase of the approval process but hours of public comment and discussion amongst commissioners forced the continuation of the meeting to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
After commissioner, city staff and developers painstakingly covered the details of parking, traffic and other concerns that have expressed by both commissioners and residents throughout the process, Dustin Peterson of The Athens Group, the real estate company in charge of the redevelopment, took 20 minutes to address why he feels the project should be approved by the commission and, eventually, City Council.
“The Miramar as you guys know has an incredibly rich history,” Peterson said, describing how the founder of Santa Monica had his choice of any site and he picked the four-and-a-half acre site where the hotel currently lays. “We think it’s very appropriate that as we look back 100 years, our proposed plan is the idea to bring Miramar forward to the next hundred years.”
While he described the “hodgepodge of architecture you see today with no real cohesive master plan,” Peterson said, the two landmarks on the site — the Morton Bay fig tree and the Palisades Building — have been the basis of the redevelopment plans, “along with fixing the key issues that (previously) got touched on, including pedestrian circulation, vehicular circulation and parking… Our plan will take employees off neighborhood streets and eliminate literally hundreds of daily duplicative trips that circle around our site.”
During public comment, many residents shared their displeasure with the project, citing concerns related to noise pollution, and the fact their ocean breeze and view may potentially be blocked by the hotel or five-story apartment building. Many more residents called in to share support of the project.
But Peterson was adamant to describe the affordable apartments as an unprecedented offering for a private development in Santa Monica. He and his peers also said thousands of new construction jobs and more than 100 new permanent jobs could come available if the project were to receive approval in the future.
Questions about the project would continue as the clock neared midnight. Instead of rushing the process, commissioners motioned to return next Wednesday to finish the discussions.
“I look forward to engaging in further conversations next week,” Peterson said. “I really appreciate your time this evening.”