Miramar Update

Last week, we broke the news of an impending sale of the Miramar. We have since learned that Los Angeles developer Richard Curuso is the lucky suitor and is likely to be the new owner of the Miramar property by the end of January. A representative of Richard Curuso attended Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, which most likely demonstrates the seriousness of this particular buyer’s interests. His reputation as a thoughtful planner precedes him, so presumably if a deal is finalized, Curuso will tread carefully and respectably through Montecito’s planning process and should be able to begin construction in a timely fashion.

Coral Casino Update

Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, LLC, owners of the Biltmore and Coral Casino, say plans to re-open the pool and the club by July Fourth are still on target, and Warner Community Relations Manager Erinn Lynch assures us the restaurant and ballroom will be ready for business “five to six months later.”

You’ll notice from the accompanying photos taken on Tuesday January 23, that both the wooden tower and the lighthouse lamp that sits upon it, have been removed. On hand for the job was a 200-ton Specialty Crane that Project Manager Rich Homan of Hales Engineering, Inc., says is the same type and size that was used to lift the Atlas rockets atop launchers at Vandenberg. As far as we know, this is the very first time the bottom section of the Coral Casino tower has ever been moved.

“In view of extensive rot, existing substandard structural construction, evidence of structural destabilization, and safety concerns for construction workers,” Ms Lynch says, “the structural engineer recommended removing the tower structure to safely facilitate the required structural upgrades.” The tower and the lamp will be stored in front of the Coral Casino “on wood scaffolding and protected by concrete k-rails for the duration of its temporary relocation,” and will probably stay there until the end of May. When it is returned to its former position, the lighthouse lamp will have been buttressed by steel support beams, as will the cedar base, so that the noticeable tilt that caused its removal and repair in 2005 won’t happen again.

With both the Miramar and Coral Casino scheduled to be back online perhaps as early as mid-2008, new Montecito can go back to being a little more like old Montecito. We look forward to that re-transformation.

We are sorry to hear that Farris Clark Hignett a longtime Montecito Resident passed away Tuesday January 23. We will announce the memorial services via the internet later this week.