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Local News

Miramar Developer ‘Not Prepared’ to Demolish Derelict Buildings Without Financing

Company says it shares community's frustration, but that the economy has prevented it from moving forward with hotel project

Officials behind the Miramar Hotel project issued a statement Thursday saying that demolishing derelict buildings on the property wouldn’t be financially feasible, despite a request to do so from some Montecito residents.

In March, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors gave its unanimous blessing to project changes for the hotel, which developers are hopeful will help attract financing.

The Miramar Hotel, to be built by developer Rick Caruso at 1555 S. Jameson Lane in Montecito, received approval from the Montecito Planning Commission in February.

A statement from the company last month said financing for the project continued to be an issue. In the meantime, the property remains vacant.

“The community’s desire to see the buildings torn down is not new,” Matt Middlebrook, senior vice president of development for Caruso Affiliated, said in Thursday’s statement. He said the company shares in the frustration of the community, but that the economy continues to falter, leaving the market for new hotel development “very challenging.”

Middlebrook said the company has worked to be responsive to the community and “to secure every building, remove all debris and to add security at the site. As a result, reports of people illegally being on the site have dropped to almost zero.”

As for complete demolition, Middlebrook said it would cost millions of dollars to meet the conditions. A county mitigation fee of $1.4 million, required by the California Coastal Commission, is due when pulling a building or demolition permit, he said. Before that happens, planning and development fees must be paid in full and other conditions met.

“Moreover, these costs are in addition to the approximately $100,000 per month it costs simply to maintain the property in its current state,” Middlebrook said. “Particularly in this troubled economy, we are unfortunately not prepared to invest millions of dollars into a project absent financing and a clear path to construction. We remain hopeful that will be able to move forward with the project and restore the tradition of the 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. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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