Marriott, Hilton Projects Vetted At Santa Monica Planning Commission

Sunday, 6 Oct 2013, 10:23:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

A rendering of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel proposed for the corner of Colorado Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Santa Monica.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel proposed for the corner of Colorado Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Santa Monica.

With an updated Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) still taking shape, two new hotels could be erected in Santa Monica’s urban core in the very near future – but not before planning commissioners vet a pair of development agreements, or DAs, before they reach the City Council.

The two DAs proposing a Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton were on deck at the Planning Commission’s Oct. 2 meeting, with the advisory panel checking in to determine whether the developer made any progress in addressing a list of concerns and issues they previously raised.

The Planning Commission initially held a public hearing for these two parallel DAs in July. However, the hearing was continued so OTO Development could address a possible neutrality agreement with a local union, determine contributions to Historic Preservation and the Hospitality and Training Academy, provide local hiring and living wage provisions, and ask whether it had any ideas about water reduction.

Other issues planning commissioners hoped the developer would address in its two DAs included: open hours for an extended walkway; commitment to solar panels for renewable energy; design improvements and recommendations to various elements of each hotel; clarification of proposed alcohol permits for each hotel; a baseline Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) of 2.0; additional details for a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan, including on-site bicycles for guests and car-share spaces; and, language amendments to key provisions of the DA.

OTO Development is proposing to build two new “limited-service” hotels near the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Fifth Street.

A Hampton Inn and Suites would be located at 501 Colorado and would feature 143 guest rooms.

The other hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, would be at 1554 Fifth Street and include 136 rooms.

Both hotels would be six stories tall and include two subterranean levels for 75 to 100 parking spots.

In the City staff report presented to planning commissioners prior to their Oct. 2 meeting, there were 29 items listed as either an issue that needed to be addressed, an amendment to key DA language, and disagreements OTO Development had with City Hall.

With respect to the recommendation that it reach a neutrality agreement with Unite Here Local 11, OTO Development’s labor attorneys stated in an August letter the developer was willing to execute a neutrality agreement with labor union officials.

OTO Development also proposed a total contribution of $100,000 to the Hotel Training Academy as well as hosting an on-site job fair at each hotel. Both job fairs would be open to the public.

The developer also agreed to work with City Hall on living wage provisions.

Beyond the Hotel Training Academy contribution, OTO Development also stated, according to the City staff report, it would allocate $100,000 (or $50,000 per hotel) toward Historic Preservation.

Other recommended contributions include $294,000 by each hotel toward the Colorado Esplanade and combined contributions of more than $400,000 for parks and open space. The Courtyard by Marriott would also be responsible for making a $21,000 contribution toward affordable housing.

The developer could also be required to build a permanent and public commemorative to “portray one or more aspects of the past history and significance of the site.”

Water reduction measures were also key, with City staff recommending OTO Development pursue a 20 percent baseline reduction in water consumption to achieve LEED Gold status as well as installing waterless urinals, automatic sensor faucets in public restrooms, and efficient uses of showerheads, faucets, laundry and dishwashing equipment, and irrigation systems.

Planning commissioners and City staff spent time at the Oct. 2 meeting hammering out various details of the proposed DAs for the Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton.

Also reviewed by planning commissioners were economic impact reports, fiscal impact reports, and the actual DAs.

The Mirror will analyze each of these documents in the coming weeks and continue reporting upon how the two OTO Development DAs progress through public process.

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