Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 8:49 pm | Overcast 57º

Miramar Hotel Developer Calls on County to Settle Tax Deal

Rick Caruso says bed-tax rebates under an incentive program are crucial to moving ahead with the $170 million project in Montecito

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Surrounded by a now-vacant expanse of property overlooking Miramar Beach and the Pacific Ocean, developer Rick Caruso spoke to the media Wednesday about the plans he hopes will materialize for the Miramar Hotel.

Caruso has been actively seeking the $170 million in financing needed to build the 182-room hotel, and Wednesday’s news conference served as a reminder that Santa Barbara County must come to a deal with his company in order to move forward.

Last June, the Board of Supervisors approved the Hotel Incentive Program ordinance, which would allow new hotels with a value of $50 million or more to get transient-occupancy-tax rebates.

But lawyers for Caruso as well as those for the county have yet to come to an agreement on the terms, and not having a deal would change the economics of the project “significantly,” he said.

The deal would give lenders the added assurance of cash flow, and Caruso said he sees the issue as “solvable.”

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal noted that the deteriorating cottages on the property were demolished late last year, and the site has been cleaned up significantly.

He also said that the county has granted the permits, accomplishing both goals he had after being re-elected last fall.

Carbajal said the weak economy played into the decision to pursue the transient-occupancy tax deal last summer, adding that the Miramar, when built, would provide the county $130 million in revenue over the life of the deal.

“That can buy a lot of police officers and fire trucks and provide mental health,” he said.

As plans for the Miramar continue to lie dormant, a host of other hotels in the area have announced they’ll be expanding or reopening on the South Coast, with one of the most notable being the El Encanto Hotel.

“None of those hotels have that,” said Caruso, gesturing to the view of the Pacific Ocean.

The Montecito Association’s Richard Nordlund was also on hand, and said “we expect to have a fabulous development.”

When pressed by reporters about the timeline of the project, Caruso said his goal is to open the hotel’s doors in 2016.

Assuming the tax issue is resolved quickly, Caruso said, he’d like to break ground next year.

“I want to start enjoying this place,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.