Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Hope Ranch hotel takes a step


A proposal for a 108-room hotel at the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 154 wrapped up the concept review phase yesterday with an appearance before the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission.
Suzanne Elledge, owner of Suzanne Elledge Planning and Permitting Services, who is representing the applicant, said before yesterday’s meeting she has presented the project to the County’s Board of Architectural Review four times.

She said the comments received during the concept review, both from the public and from the planning agencies, will be taken into consideration in the coming months as the landowner, State Street Hospitality, puts together its official application.
Elledge said the soonest a project application could be submitted to the county would be 60-days from now.
“I think the applicant feels he can be responsive to the comments he heard,” Elledge said. “It’s wonderful to get early input because you get a lot of guidance early on.”
Elledge said she isn’t sure if one person, or a group of investors owns State Street Hospitality, but knows it does not own any other properties in Santa Barbara. She said it does have properties in the San Francisco area.
The majority of comments received, Elledge said, were in regards to the size, bulk and scale of the project, which could be as tall as 35-feet and if built, could provoke traffic issues, since its entrance is near the intersection of the two highways.
When asked for more information about the hotel, Elledge said there really isn’t much, simply because the project hasn’t had any official plans drawn up.
Minutes taken at Architectural Board of Review meetings show the project, as it is currently proposed, would be comprised of 62,000 square feet of hotel space and 42,000 square feet of underground parking.
Judging from the comments received yesterday and at previous meetings, Elledge said the project would likely be smaller when it is officially considered.
“We’re going to be working on reducing the size, bulk and scale and still have it be an economically viable project,” she said.
The hotel, which would be called the Hope Ranch Inn, would replace a 16-room hotel that currently occupies the site at 4111 State St.
Elledge said concept review allows an applicant to put prospective projects in front of planners before loads of money is spent on plans.
“I think that this kind of process is really helpful to everybody,” she said. “We’re excited about moving ahead to the next step.”

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