Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 12:38 am | Fog/Mist 53º



Plans for New Lompoc Hotel Fall Through as Developer Backs Out

The developer who planned to build a 110-room hotel near Lompoc’s popular Wine Ghetto area has nixed pursuing the idea, at least for now.

Costa Mesa-based Ayres Hotel Company informed the city this month that it was no longer interested in building the development on the Zotovich Cellars property at the intersection of Highway 246 and 12th Street, near an entrance to the city.

Principal planner Lucille Breese said Lompoc city staff had been in talks with developer Don Ayres III for a couple years on the project, although no formal application was ever submitted.

The Santa Rita Hills hotel project, which would’ve employed at least 40 people, was on track for a 2017 opening, Ayres told Noozhawk.

“It was such a bummer,” he said this week. “We just loved the area. It just came down to a business decision primarily. There weren’t enough demand generators. It was really kind of disappointing not to be able to do it.”

Ayres pointed to three other developments that might hinder demand: a planned expansion of the Chumash Casino & Resort, a new hotel possibly opening in nearby Buellton and a Hilton Garden Inn in Lompoc.

Hilton has already filed an application with the city to build a 155-room hotel at the northwest corner of Barton and H Street. 

Lompoc is currently conducting an environmental review of the project prior to a planning commission land-use hearing, Breese said, noting the same project was initially approved in 2008 but couldn’t move forward then because of the economic downturn.

City administrator Patrick Wiemiller informed the Lompoc City Council of Ayres’ “unfortunate” decision earlier this month.

Ayres said city staff members were extremely helpful, a message Wiemiller passed along to the council.

Lompoc had done all it could to make the hotel happen, said City Councilman DeWayne Holmdahl, who wanted Lompoc residents to understand it wasn’t the fault of administrators.

“I hate to see it happen,” he said at the meeting. “That is the facts of life.”

Ayres wouldn’t rule out opening a hotel somewhere on the Central Coast in the future.

“We’re still looking for opportunities in the area, for sure,” Ayres said. “In time, it may be a real good area, but we think it’s still kind of a softer market, a little off the beaten path. It has a lot of potential. I’ll probably kick myself in a few years.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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