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Miramar Redevelopment Headed to Planning Commission
By Jorge Casuso
August 27, 2020 -- Eight-and-a-half years after going before the Planning Commission, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel's developer will be back next Wednesday with a very different proposal to redevelop the century old hotel.
The new 500,000-square-foot mixed-use project -- which includes 312 luxury hotel rooms, 60 condominiums and a 42-unit affordable apartment building across the street -- is nearly identical to the proposal unveiled in April 2018 by the Miramar's owner MSD Capital, L.P.
But it is a far cry from the two previous designs, one of which included a 21-story tower that was deemed far too tall, the other -- which blanketed the 4.5-acre site -- far too bulky.
"The Miramar project is an extraordinary example of Santa Monica's public planning process working," said Dustin Peterson, vice-president of The Athens Group, which is leading the development project.
The proposal preserves and upgrades the 100-room seven-story historic Palisades building, while replacing the hodge-podge of structures added to the site over the years with a sleek 130-foot tall structure topped with luxury condominiums.
The design of the new structure by world-renown architect Cesar Pelli features a curved facade that revolves around the iconic 150-year-old fig tree in the hotel's courtyard ("New Miramar Hotel Design Embraces Past, Present and Future of Santa Monica," April 12, 2018).
The proposal adds only 12 rooms but doubles their size and features bathroom fixtures and amenities that would make it Santa Monica's only five-star hotel.
The proposal also includes 42 affordable housing units across 2nd Street that would be developed by Community Corporation, the City's affordable housing provider.
Peterson calls the affordable apartments "an unprecedented offering for a private development in Santa Monica."
The proposed Miramar redevelopment comes as Santa Monica's economy has nosedived due to the coronavirus shutdown.
In May the Council voted to bridge a looming $150 million budget defict by slashing municipal programs and cutting hundreds of City jobs.
MSD Capital says the proposed project would be a "cornerstone of the City's economic recovery plan," pumping $15.4 million a year into the City's coffers, compared to the current $8.1 million.
It also would generate thousands of new construction jobs and more than 100 new permanent jobs, including local hiring for both.
The Miramar would remain a union hotel, with workers given the option of taking a severance package or returning to their jobs when the hotel is completed, the developer said.
After being reviewed by the Planning Commission, the project goes before the City Council. If approved it would then require Coastal Commission approval and further design review.
If the process goes smoothly, construction could begin as early as 2023 and be completed by 2026, the developer said.
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