Although Santa Barbara County and developer Rick Caruso still haven’t come to an agreement about a proposed bed-tax-rebate program, demolition has begun on the long-vacant and dilapidated Miramar Hotel in Montecito.
“We made the decision to proceed with the demo because it’s our view that the county residents have waited long enough for the buildings to come down,” said Matt Middlebrook, senior vice president of development with Caruso Affiliated.
“All of the buildings will be down by the end of January,” Middlebrook said. “For safety reasons, the site will remain fenced.”
The Miramar closed in 2000 for renovations that never happened, and Caruso is the third owner — after Ian Schrager and Ty Warner — to try to revitalize it. The existing buildings fell into such disrepair that Caruso decided to demolish them instead of renovating, and then build a new 186-room hotel.
He asked the county for a tax-rebate program to help get the $170 million project off the ground, since he has been struggling to find financing for construction. The demolition doesn’t guarantee that the project will go forward.
In June, the Board of Supervisors approved the Hotel Incentive Program ordinance, under which new hotels with a value of $50 million or more would get transient-occupancy-tax rebates. However, the details are still being worked out, Middlebrook said.
The county gets $568,000 in property taxes a year from the Miramar land now, and estimates that it would receive $1.7 million in property taxes, $1.5 million in sales taxes and $450,000 in TOT revenues when a new hotel is completed.