A rendering shows the proposed concept for the Surfliner Inn project at 499 Linden Ave. in Carpinteria.
A rendering shows the proposed concept for the Surfliner Inn project at 499 Linden Ave. in Carpinteria.

Downtown Carpinteria may become the site of a new 40-room boutique hotel.

Members of the Carpinteria City Council, the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board met recently for a concept review of the Surfliner Inn project, proposed for 499 Linden Ave.

The hotel would sit on the corner of Linden Avenue and Fifth Street. The two-story structure is proposed at the site of a train station that stood there before it was demolished in 1967.

The contemporary, cottage-style hotel would include 36 guest rooms, four suites, a manager’s unit, a 1,546-square-foot cafe, two swimming pools and a rooftop bar/lounge/event area.

“I like the fact that it is not a branded hotel,” Councilman Gregg Carty said. “They are using building practices that are environmentally friendly. The architecture I like quite a bit. It reminds me of a lodge you would see, maybe at Yosemite or somewhere. To me, it’s pretty pleasing.”

The project is very early in its stages. The developer has yet to submit a formal application.

The proposal has sparked controversy over its size, parking configuration, and location near residences. A group called the Coalition Against the Railroad Hotel has voiced opposition to the proposal.

“No neighborhood should have a public parking lot installed against residential households; 10 households would suffer this fate,” wrote Judy Mulford and Marla Daily, co-chairs of the Coalition Against the Railroad Hotel.

The proposal calls for a reconfiguration of the current Parking Lot 3, which would reduce the number of parking spaces from 113 to 47. A downtown parking study determined that downtown has a surplus of parking and that the downtown Parking Lot 3 is underutilized.

The new lot, on the other side of the railroad tracks, would create 83 new spaces. The maximum height of the building would reach 36.5 feet, but the roof ridges on the second-story would be 29 feet tall.

Most of the officials from the three committees were supportive of the concept, acknowledging that the Nov. 30 meeting was just a concept review and that a lot of work still needs to be completed.

The developers, 499 Linden Managers LLC (formerly The Theimer Group LLC), said the project works for Carpinteria.

Jeff Theimer, who along with his father, Jack, led the development team, said Carpinteria has many great hotel offerings, from small and large chains, but the Surfliner project would add a new flavor to the city.

“One thing that we thought was missing, and we heard from a lot of individuals in town, was that it would be great to have something small, but different,” Jeff Theimer said. “This hotel, given its size and scale, does meet that.”

Councilman Roy Lee said the project is in the early stages; it is just the first step.

“I do believe the developers are sincere in their proposal,” Lee said. “They have done a great job, a good job, on the planning and design of this project. I just hope everyone can keep an open mind about this project.”

Carty said someday people will look back and really appreciate the project.

“As far as fitting into the downtown, it would be, years from now, a landmark,” Carty said. “I am quite impressed with the project myself. I think all new development in Carpinteria needs to be well thought out and planned, and I believe we are on the track.”

Jeff Theimer said the project will be good for both tourists and locals.

“What we ultimately want to do with this project, if given the opportunity to proceed, will be to serve as an anchor for Carpinteria small businesses, but also the community all day long,” Theimer said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.