The plans for a 150-room establishment at that site were approved in 1981 and amended in 1993, with conditions that the Parker family build a 100-room hostel and donate land for a Chase Palm Park expansion. The hostel on State and Montecito streets will open this summer, and the land is now home to the Chase Palm Park Carousel and play areas.
There was a development agreement that gave the family 12 years to get approvals and build, but they’ve struggled to get financing.
City of Santa Barbara planning staff members are proposing a new development agreement to give the family time to develop a completely new design without losing the approved project as a backup.
Eli Parker, who attended the council meeting with his sister Ashley, said the project can be improved since it’s a 1990s design.
If the family moves forward with the approved plan, they would just need new permits, but a new design would go through full review by the city and the California Coastal Commission, according to city planner Betty Weiss.
The city wants to see the project revised, and the family wants to keep the approved, 150-room hotel on the table, she said.
The agreement would also put a deadline — 10 years or less — on getting a new project approved and built.
City Council members voiced support for the idea but want the deadline sooner rather than later.
“I’m tired of seeing that site there in that state,” Councilman Bendy White said.
Councilman Dale Francisco noted that, with a 10-year deadline, the project will have taken 43 years to finish.
If the project uses fewer than the 150 rooms, the Parker family can transfer those to another establishment such as the Doubletree or other hotel in the downtown area, Weiss said.
Only one person spoke during public comment, which was a big difference from the project’s controversial past, council members noted.
The development agreement isn't finalized and will be coming back for approval by the City Council.