Coastal Commission Issues Permits for Redevelopment of Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows

Hotel will double in size under new plans

By Sam Catanzaro

The California Coastal Commission has approved redevelopment plans for the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, authorizing demolition and building permits for the project.

On March 10, the project was presented to the California Coastal Commission in two parts. At the virtual meeting, the Commission approved separate permits allowing developers to demolish a parking lot to make way for a five-story residential building and another allowing development of the current hotel.

“We appreciate the unanimous approval of the California Coastal Commission for our project and are incredibly humbled and grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of support across the community,” Ellis O’Connor and Dustin Peterson of Miramar Santa Monica said in a statement. . “We look forward to writing the next chapter in Miramar’s rich history.”

At the same meeting, the City of Santa Monica obtained Commission approval to triple the maximum allowable height for a project on that site. The City’s Standard Land Use Plan sets a maximum building height of 45 feet with a floor area ratio of 2.0. The increase approved by the Commission brings it up to 130 feet and 2.6, respectively.

“The site in question is already developed with multi-storey buildings stretching up to 135 feet. high and a boundary wall that blocks any public view of the coast on site or across the site from within Ocean Avenue; the proposed height and distance will not adversely impact existing public coastal views; views from Ocean Avenue, the Pacific Coast Highway and the public beach will not be affected. Additionally, buildings with significantly higher heights and FARs can be found on every street surrounding the site in question,” reads the Coast Commission staff report recommending approval.

There is no timetable yet for the start of demolition and construction associated with the project. Before work begins again, plans must go through the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission and the Architectural Review Board. Once the design review is completed, construction is expected to take 33 months. During this time, hotel operations will be suspended. Employees will have the option of receiving severance pay or returning to their same position upon completion of work.

The hotel, located at Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, has been around since the 1920s.

According to the Athens Group’s plans, the hotel will double in size, retaining the existing Palisades building and the Moreton Bay Fig Tree.

The 502,157 square foot redevelopment proposal, which has been drastically altered three times during a decade-long planning process, includes 312 guest rooms, 60 condominiums and approximately 18,000 square feet of retail space . In addition, land will be reserved on 2nd Street for a 100% affordable housing complex of 42 units.

Coastal Commission approval is the final step in a ten-year planning process for the project. In September 2020, the Santa Monica City Council paved the way for its realization by approving the project by a vote of 4 to 2. Former Mayor Kevin McKeown and current City Council member Sue Himmelrich were the two dissenting voices and both took issue with the inclusion of luxury condos in the proposal. Council member Gleam Davis withdrew from the debate and voted on the project. Davis is married to John Prindle, a high-ranking Dell Technologies employee and Dell CEO Michael Dell owns the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows through his investment firm MSD Capital.

The redevelopment was not without detractors, including the Santa Monica Bay Towers (SMBT) Homeowners Association. In December 2020, the group filed a lawsuit challenging the city council’s approval, alleging the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), in addition to the city’s land use plan. City and the Downtown Community Plan (DCP).

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