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Developer of Miramar Hotel Project Submits Revisions to County for Review

Developer Rick Caruso says he hopes the changes will help move the plan closer to securing financing

The developer of the stalled Miramar Hotel project in Montecito announced some changes to the plan earlier this month, in hopes that the tweaks will help it move toward financing.

In an update sent out Jan. 14, developer Rick Caruso said he and his team went back to the drawing board on several aspects, and a revised project has been submitted to the county for review.

“We feel strongly that it’s an even better project than the one that had been approved,” he wrote, adding that it would cut costs — a necessary step if the group hopes to get the project financed — and maintain quality.

Although the project was approved by the Montecito Planning Commission and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, a group of Montecito residents filed a lawsuit against Caruso’s company, Caruso Affiliated, in 2008. A settlement was reached the following year, but the project remains stalled because of lack of financing, though county supervisors extended the project’s permits last year.

“What’s remained constant is our desire to build this project, and we think that this revised plan puts us significantly closer to that goal,” Caruso wrote.

The elimination of the ballroom building and tennis courts on the project’s eastern property are among the changes and were replaced with heavily landscaped surface parking lot. The move allowed the group to eliminate one of the two levels of underground parking. Caruso said the approach would reduce the visual impacts from Jameson Avenue and the lot would have a permeable surface to eliminate stormwater runoff.

Other changes include an increase in open space, a significant reduction in square footage, required height variances and number of rooms, which would drop from 192 to 186. A new pool restaurant will serve as a three-meal facility, and the amount of the project’s retail space will be reduced. All of the public parking and public access would remain the same as the approved plan.

“Our plan is to meet with members of the community in the next few weeks to discuss the revised plan in more detail and to have it heard before the Montecito Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors during the next two months,” Caruso wrote. “We’re excited about the revised plan and are hopeful that it brings us all closer to the construction of a new Miramar.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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