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New Miramar Hotel Design Embraces Past, Present and Future of Santa Monica, Developers Say
By Jorge Casuso
April 12, 2018 -- Compared to previous versions floated over the past six years, the Miramar Hotel's new design -- publicly unveiled on Thursday -- seems low-slung with a design that developers say embraces Santa Monica's past, present and future.
Gone are the towers that drew the ire of slow-growth activists, replaced by a sleek curving facade that evokes the streamline-moderne style popular in the 1950s and showcases the Miramar's iconic Moreton fig tree that is the cornerstone of the 4.5-acre site.
The new design by the world-renowned Argentine architect Cesar Pelli, the designer of some of the world's tallest buildings, has been downscaled from the originally proposed 320 feet to conform to Downtown's recently approved 130-foot maximum height.
The design accommodates 312 luxury hotel rooms (up from 300), as many as 60 condominiums (half of what was originally proposed) and approximately 475 on-site underground parking spaces for guests, residents, workers and the public (nearly triple the existing number).
The plan by the Miramar's owner MSD Capital, L.P. preserves and upgrades the seven-story historic Palisades building which has 100 rooms and will feature the original colors and a sign that hearkens back to its glory days in the 1940s and 50s.
It also provides a new second-floor location for The Bungalow and FIG Restaurant and 6,600 square feet of retail space, mostly along Wilshire Boulevard across the street from Santa Monica's tallest building, designed by Pelli a half century ago.
A collaboration with his son, Rafael, who grew up in Santa Monica, Pelli's new design is an effort to embrace the hotel's storied past as lodgings for royalty, film stars and presidents and the community that currently surrounds it.
“The Miramar Hotel has been an integral part of the Santa Monica community for nearly 100 years,” said Cesar and Rafael Pelli in a joint statement. “With that in mind, we have designed the new Miramar with the goal of embracing the local community."
The curved facade creates a sweeping 14,000-square-foot public garden space that revolves around the historic fig tree planted by the wife of Santa Monica's co-founder, U.S. Senator John Percival Jones, in what was the family's yard 150 years ago.
The garden area features a wooden deck around the historic tree and an affordable outdoor cafe that activates the surrounding gardens and provides a scenic view of the ocean.
The new design is an effort to update what a century ago was a state-of the art hotel to the cutting-edge standards of the high-tech 21st Century, Miramar officials said.
“This new plan allows us to honor the Miramar hotel’s past while moving it towards the future,” said Dustin Peterson, vice-president of The Athens Group, which is leading the development project.
The rooms with running hot water featured as state-of-the-art when the hotel's first building opened in 1920 would be replaced with rooms that have five-fixture bathrooms, a feature that helps define a modern 5-star hotel, developers said.
The old ballroom's 14-foot ceilings would be raised to more than 20 feet to accommodate state-of-the-art audio and video technology in a divisible 10,000-square-foot event space, according to developers.
The new design addresses Downtown's parking crunch by creating three separate parking entrances to the hotel.
The public and hotel guests would enter from 2nd Street, hotel workers (who currently park on neighboring residential streets) would enter on California Avenue and condominium residents would enter on Ocean Avenue.
The new design also features photo-voltaic panels on the rooftops and other energy and water saving features that would qualify the project for a Platinum LEED designation and cut down utility costs by about one-third, developers said.
The proposed redevelopment accommodates both very wealthy and low-income residents.
Multi-million-dollar condominiums occupy the upper three floors of the hotel and as many as 40 affordable housing units (at least half the number of condominiums) would be built on the site of an existing surface parking lot on the west side of Second Street.
The redeveloped hotel is expected to generate $187 million in net new revenue over the first 20 years for the City, which is grappling with rising pension costs.
It's the hotel's past, as well as its present and future, that the design embraces, developers said. The new curved building stretches into an imaginary circle the encompasses the J.P. Jones monument across the street in Palisades Park.
It is the spot where a century and a half ago, the City's co-founder would sit and stare at the bay he dreamed would become the Port of Los Angeles and which is today a hub in a new technological world.
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