The Fairmont Miramar hosted an open house Thursday, but
there were a few Santa Monica residents who were not to happy the event was
held for an invite-only group of about 150 residents to learn more about the
progress of the hotel’s planned redevelopment.
The hotel unveiled plans that it has designed a taller building with an east-west orientation, according to the Miramar's website.
"The new Ocean Building will sit majestically at the center of the site, balancing the tall neighboring buildings to the immediate north and south while stepping down on the eastern end to respond to the scale of the Huntley Hotel," the website says. "The plan minimizes view impacts from neighboring buildings to the east and puts the scale of the proposed project in context with the nearby hotel, condominium and office buildings. The plan will be significantly less dense than the surrounding buildings."
In its invitation to the Thursday open house, the Miramar’s representatives did try
to acknowledge they tried to receive input from as many people as possible.
“We have reached out to over a thousand Santa Monica
residents, businesses and stakeholders for input and comments on the future of
the hotel,” the invitation read. “Our preliminary plans were also the
subject of extensive public hearings before the Planning Commission and the
City Council last year. The input received was enormously helpful, and provided
Still, some who questioned why the open house, advertised
as an unveiling of plans for its proposed expansion and revitalization, was
invite-only, and even then limited to just 150 people.
“I was very disappointed that the entire community was
not invited to the unveiling event,” local resident Avery Auer said. “Why would
the Miramar developers not plan right from the beginning to include residents
who are clearly interested in learning more about their project?
“The hotel’s massive expansion project will have
significant impacts on Santa Monica residents from across the city. So why not
create a public event where ALL community members can learn more about the new
plans and share their input?”
Earlier this week, the Santa Monica Coalition for a
Livable City (SMCLC) sent an email to its supporters stating: “Turns out we are
not welcome at the Miramar Hotel’s ‘open house,’ where our neighbors will
have the opportunity to learn more about the Miramar project. We just received
an email from the ‘Miramar Team’ that space concerns prohibit including those
who did not receive an ‘initial invitation.’”
The SMCLC is one of the groups against Miramar’s
expansion and revitalization plans.
Thursday’s open house was the latest chapter in a
redevelopment project that has stirred up quite the discussion in Santa Monica.
Miramar’s expansion and revitalization plans hit a fever pitch in early 2012,
when the project came to the city council as a “float-up.”
Miramar’s owner, MSD Capital, proposed a plan to reduce
total guest rooms from 296 to 265 and meeting room space from more than 21,000
square feet to about 11,500 square feet, but up the food and beverage space
from 3,796 to 12,080 square feet. Just the same, retail space would increase
from 525 square feet to 6,400 while the spa facilities would potential grow
from its current 5,569 square feet to 13,483 square feet.
Plans also call for the floor area ratio to double from
1.4 to 2.9, while the total floor area would increase from 262,000 to 550,000
The hotel’s proposed plans also called for 484 parking
spaces, up from the current 160 available. Also proposed: adding 120
condominiums and 40 affordable units to the project.
Whether or not these proposals were altered, some members
of the public wish they could have found out at the Feb. 21 open house.
One resident told The
Mirror that while MSD Capital and the Fairmont Miramar are private entities
and have the right to limit those who could attend the open house, the hotel
and developer were missing out on an opportunity.
“The Miramar is a private company which has the right to
invite anyone to their design preview. And to keep out people who haven’t
been invited,” Susan Scarafia said. “Limiting their invitation list
is a missed opportunity, though, to genuinely involve stakeholders.”
She believed the hotel developer and owner could better
refine its community outreach.
“The developers did outreach before, but not the right
kind – to the entire community. The developers SAY they’re listening to the
community. Just their fans, or all of us? Will they post the new renderings and
proposal on their website and ask the city and neighborhood associations to do
so too so the community can be easily informed?” Scarafia asked.
Auer questioned whether MSD Capital is being fully
transparent with its plans for the Miramar.
“It is critical that these developers be open and
transparent,” she said. “Instead, right out of the gate, it seems they are
limiting access, which is disappointing to say the least. I sincerely hope that
they will publish the dates of any upcoming meetings in which they will share
their plans and be open to feedback from the larger community.”
Scarafia was also hopeful the Miramar’s owners and
developers would follow-up the invite-only open house with making its plans
available to the public.
“We’re looking forward to seeing a range of smaller
project options in response to what public officials and residents have been
clamoring for,” Scarafia said. “We want to ensure that the Environmental Impact
Report includes a few reduced-size alternatives to give decision-makers a real
understanding of how downsizing will reduce the adverse impacts including
increased traffic, parking and neighborhood compatibility.”
The new Miramar Plan includes:
Representatives of the Miramar or MSD Capital were not
immediately available for this article.
Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.