Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Club's opening delayed


As construction workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club last Thursday, the day before its planned reopening, a fire sprinkler head burst in the main lobby, showering water onto a new computer system and flooding recently renovated areas.
“It did a lot of damage there [in the main lobby] and down in the basement,” said Greg Rice, a spokesman for Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts.

Rice said the sprinkler began pouring water into the lobby after an electrician lost his balance during a wiring project and grabbed hold of a sprinkler pipe near the ceiling, which then caused the sprinkler head to burst.
Rice said he didn’t know how long the sprinkler was on, but said it was long enough to cause damage to walls in the basement, the computer system and stone work in the lobby.
As of yesterday, Rice said he did not yet know the cost of the damage, but it was significant enough to thwart the opening of the members-only, seaside club for as long as one week.
Erinn Lynch, community relations manager for Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, said the club’s more than 500 members were phoned after the incident and told that they would not be able to view the much anticipated phase-1 remodel, which is the front-end of a $60 million, multiyear renovation.
Rice said he hopes the Coral will be ready to open this weekend, but could not confirm a specific date.
When the doors do officially open, members will find a Coral Casino that is a throwback to its original, modern Scandinavian architecture. According to a statement issued by Rice, this architecture is defined by “horizontal lines, crisp minimal detailing, clean beach white color palettes and the overall sense of being aboard a luxury steam liner.”
Much of the remodel project, which forced the 80-year-old Coral Casino to close its doors for about about 15 months, was focused on “undoing” additions to the hotel, the statement said.
“Over the years the Coral Casino had lost much of its genuine character,” said Ty Warner in a prepared statement. “Simply put, our aim is to restore the original theme and purpose of the club while embracing the Coral Casino’s most beloved feature; namely its spectacular setting on one of the most beautiful beaches in California.”
Phase one of the project includes a renovated pool deck, locker rooms, exercise room, lobby, loggia and multipurpose room.
Warner employed the help of architect Peter Marino, who said he attempted to restore the design principles envisioned by the Coral’s original architect Gardner Dailey.
Because the Coral was built during the Depression, Marino said he used upgraded materials to enhance the durability and beauty of the building.
“Comfort, elegance and restrained glamour of the original design were all paramount considerations in the rebuilding,” Marino said.
In order to grasp the vintage feel of the Coral, Warner used photos of the original pool deck while selecting the new outdoor furniture, the statement said.
Rice said the extent to which the club needed renovations was so great, it would have been cheaper to tear it down, and erect a new building in its place.
“This rehabilitation does not only involve that which can tangibly be seen, but that which will allow the soul and character of the Coral Casino to continue for many generations to come,” Rice said.
Phase 2, which is expected to be completed sometime next year, will include a renovated second floor restaurant, new tower entrance, ballroom, rooftop sun deck and members’ living room.
The Coral will be operated by Four Seasons The Biltmore, which is across the street from the club and is also owned by Warner.
After the Coral renovation project was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on July 5, 2005, an appeal was filed by a woman named Cynthia Ziegler. After the appeals failed to stop the project, Ziegler filed a lawsuit in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on behalf of a group called The Preservation Committee.
When this lawsuit was resolved in favor of Warner, Ziegler filed an additional lawsuit in an appellate court, which was also thrown out.
In addition to the Coral Casino, Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies, owns the Montecito Country Club, the Sandpiper Golf Course, San Ysidro Ranch Montecito and Rancho San Marcos Golf Course on Highway 154.

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