Archive » October 11, 2007
By Rick Caruso
New Design Plan On Its Way
We announced last month that we are in the process of redesigning our plan to leave the private access road in its current location because we were unable to reach an agreement with our neighbors on relocating the private road to the eastern edge of the property. Our redesign is moving quickly, and we plan to resubmit our application to the County next month. All the things the community said it wanted – maximum open space, underground instead of surface parking, a beach bar, great restaurants, and a convention center – are still part of the plan. Moreover, given the chance to revisit the plan, we’re making additional positive changes.
Also, due to the need to leave the private road in its place, and the fact that the convention center will still be on the Jameson side of the property, we had to consider the best way to use the property closer to the railroad tracks now that it would be divided from the main part of the property by the road. We believe we have come up with a workable plan. While we had intended to resuscitate the beach club that had been such an integral part of the Miramar for many years, we thought as part of the redesign there was an opportunity to enhance the benefits of a beach club membership. As a result, we are going to enhance our new plan with a bolder concept for the beach club, one that will provide even more amenities for members.
Our desire is to make the Miramar a place that serves both out-of-town visitors and the local community; this plan will add to what we are already doing in that regard. We are still working out the details, but we think this will be an amenity that will make the Miramar even more of a community asset.
Addressing the height issue
At the Miramar site, in order to create a relatively level site, we must raise the grade in a number of places because the existing grounds are very uneven. By leveling the grade across the property, it will make the hotel more accessible, walkable, and consistent with the grade of the surrounding neighborhoods. Our plan takes advantage of low spots on the property today, not by simply filling it in, but by placing two levels of parking under the proposed main building in response to the community’s desire to eliminate most of the paved surface parking. We heard repeatedly from community members that they would prefer to have the parking underground so there could be more open space, and less asphalt and we agreed that this was a great way to go.
At the same time though, we need to build the parking above the floodplain, and the combination of the factors dictates the height. By eliminating surface parking and building a flat grade consistent with the surrounding area we not only significantly expand the amount of open green space on the property but also create a much more user-friendly open space with better pedestrian circulation for our visitors, which is the intended use for this site. The reduction in surface parking also reduces the quantity of and improves the quality of storm water run-off.
Another feature of the site is the railroad tracks running through the middle of the site, as opposed to the back of it, as is the case with other properties in the area. To improve the visitor experience, it is preferable to keep the main open spaces above the level of the railroad track thereby improving safety for pedestrian and auto crossings of the track.
The new buildings, once constructed will be within Montecito’s height limits. However, in a few instances, we will have to ask for modifications to the height limits due to the County’s rule that heights are measured from existing grades and not proposed grades. We are confident that once the new hotel is built it will fit well with the surrounding neighborhood and look like it belongs.
If you have questions or concerns, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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