Only part of the Hotel Californian's shell remains Wednesday as demolition crews tear down the structure to make way for the La Entrada development. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Only part of the Hotel Californian’s shell remains Wednesday as demolition crews tear down the structure to make way for the La Entrada development. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Demolition crews are tearing down the Hotel Californian on Lower State Street in Santa Barbara this week as part of the large La Entrada project that’s been a long time coming.

The 1925 hotel was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and will be almost completely demolished to make way for new structures.

“People were concerned with the safety of the building — it has been considered an unsafe, unreinforced masonry building for decades now,” city planner Betty Weiss said.

La Entrada includes a 123-room hotel, timeshares, retail space, and a parking structure on three properties at State and Mason streets.

In January 2011, the properties were sold by Mountain Funding Santa Barbara to 35 State Street Hotel Partners, led by Michael Rosenfeld, the managing partner of Los Angeles-based Next Century Associates.

The project’s design and Hotel Californian demolition plan have been approved by the Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission.

“Now that it’s progressing, people expect to see some public-improvement construction beginning on the west side of State Street in front of the Hotel Californian, with sidewalk widening starting at the end of this year, then early next year for the east side of State Street,” Weiss said.

Then, developers will work on the hole that’s already been dug, “Area C” on the northeast corner lot of State and Mason streets, which has been surrounded by green fencing for years. Once it is construction-ready, a building permit will be issued for the site, Weiss said.

With the agreement with the city and Substantial Conformance Determination, a building permit has to be obtained by Nov. 30, 2014, said George Estrella, chief building official with Santa Barbara. “No plans have been submitted as of yet,” he told Noozhawk in an email.

The Californian could be in its partially demolished state until the end of 2014, since developers are required to address the public improvements and “Area C” before the other two parcels.

“Because this project has been taking so long, and we’re still not 100 percent sure they will be able to proceed — you never know until it happens — the city (wanted) these conditions on approval,” Weiss said.

Wider sidewalks will help connect the area below Highway 101 with downtown, and there will be new turning lanes added in the area, she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Demolition of Hotel Californian on State Street from Giana Magnoli on Vimeo.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.