Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Caruso revises Miramar plans, remains optimistic


After heading back to the drawing board in September to redesign disputed plans for the Miramar Hotel, owner and developer Rick Caruso yesterday, resubmitted his application to redevelop the beach front property with the County of Santa Barbara.
At the center of the dispute in September was a private road that Caruso wanted to build on the eastern edge of the property, which would have bordered several homes. This road would have replaced an existing private road that cuts through the middle of the property.

A statement from Caruso Affiliated says the company couldn’t reach an agreement about the road with a few of the neighbors, which caused Caruso to rethink some of his plans.
“I was a bit frustrated having to withdraw our application since we had so much community support and so much momentum,” Caruso said. “But when we went back to the drawing board, we quickly realized that there was a way to make this revised plan even better than the first one.”
Other changes to the plans include a reduction in rooms from 209 to 202, and the beach and tennis club will be located in a two-story bungalow rather than a one-story facility as was originally proposed.
The notoriously difficult to develop property has sat vacant for nearly a decade and has fallen through the hands of suitors such as New York hotel magnate Ian Schrager and local developer and Beanie Baby founder Ty Warner.
Warner bought the 20 acre property in 2005 from Schrager for $43 million and claimed to have spent $5 million on preliminary planning before selling to Caruso last November.
When Warner sold the hotel, he said one of the reasons was a “tangible bias” against him from the Montecito Association and the Montecito Planning Commission. Both groups denied any such bias at the time of the sell.
But any controversy in the past has seemed to mostly melt away with Caruso, or at least he hopes so.
“I am confident that the community, which has been so supportive to this point, will love this new plan, and we will be able to quickly move forward to approval,” Caruso said. “Today, we get the ball rolling.”

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