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With Development Approvals in Hand, New Parker Family Hotel Refines Site Plans

Years in the works, project representatives reveal preliminary plans for significantly smaller hotel across Calle César Chávez from The Fess Parker

The family of the late Fess Parker, developer of The Fess Parker hotel on East Cabrillo Boulevard, is moving forward with another hotel project previously approved for a parcel across Calle César Chávez and behind the green fencing on the east end of Chase Palm Park. The new project plans call for no more than 50 hotel rooms in a complex of two- and three-story buildings. Click to view larger
The family of the late Fess Parker, developer of The Fess Parker hotel on East Cabrillo Boulevard, is moving forward with another hotel project previously approved for a parcel across Calle César Chávez and behind the green fencing on the east end of Chase Palm Park. The new project plans call for no more than 50 hotel rooms in a complex of two- and three-story buildings. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Three and a half decades after the concept received its original approval from the City of Santa Barbara, plans for a new waterfront hotel by the family of the late actor Fess Parker have begun to take shape.

In May, the City Council granted a five-year extension for the Parker family to develop a hotel on East Cabrillo Boulevard across Calle César Chávez from the The Fess Parker, a Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

A massing study completed by developers came before the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission on Wednesday and will be before the city’s Architectural Board of Review on Monday.

The massing study examines the general shape, form and size of a building in the context of the site and the architectural and development constraints on it.

The three-acre south parcel at the northwest corner of Cabrillo and César Chávez lies in the El Pueblo Viejo district, which encompasses an area of historic Santa Barbara buildings that fall under the purview of the landmarks commission.

Because the 2.4-acre north parcel by the Union Pacific railroad tracks does not fall within the historic district, it will be scrutinized separately by the ABR.

Although a hotel of up to 150 rooms was approved originally, the plans currently being pursued by developers are for a project of 45–50 rooms, including no fewer than 26 rooms in a two-story “attached casitas” along with no fewer than 17 rooms within a two-to-three-story “inn” building.

The plans also include a rooftop pool and pool bar, spa, restaurant, banquet room, “strategically placed water features” and gardens.

Roughly 100 parking spaces for the hotel would be located in a segregated area of the neighboring parking lot at The Fess Parker.

In May, the City Council also gave developers the OK to transfer some of their development rights to The Fess Parker on a square-footage basis.

At the landmarks commission, architectural designer Mike Niemann and applicant Suzanne Elledge revealed how much smaller the new hotel project would be in terms of heights, space and views of its surroundings compared to the previously approved 150 rooms.

“I think you’ve made big steps forward in reducing concerns that were there previously,” commissioner Judy Orías said. “It’s going to fit much better into the site and retain views, and I think it’s a plus.”

Although the commissioners praised the developers for their willingness to build a project that doesn’t try to utilize every room and square foot for which it is permitted, the preliminary designs didn’t strike them as having a “Santa Barbara” feel.

“This doesn’t look Santa Barbara Spanish to me,” commissioner Bill La Voie said, adding that it appeared more like a “condo project in Newport Beach.”

“In the past, we’ve always thought of massing as size, bulk and scale,” commissioner Bill Mahan said. “I think we’ve got to add an additional adjective: character. El Pueblo Viejo character is a part of massing, and what’s being suggested does not have the character that would be appropriate to El Pueblo Viejo.”

Niemann stressed to the commissioners that what was contained in their presentation was only the first step toward an eventual final design.

The massing study of the north parcel will be reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review on Monday afternoon.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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