A controversial hotel project on the corner of Bath and West Montecito streets near Santa Barbara’s West Beach will return to the City Council on Tuesday with a new design — and a plan for off-site housing.
Developer Ed St. George has redesigned the 32-room project at 302 and 308 W. Montecito St. He hired Jarrett Gorin of Vanguard Planning Services, who replaced Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services.
The new project is now designed in Santa Barbara Spanish-style architecture, has greater setbacks around the half-acre property, and the entire building has gotten smaller. The third floor has been reduced in mass by 25 percent.
Most of the room sizes also have been reduced, to approximately 388 square feet each.
“We will be providing six new housing units off-site to replace the four dilapidated housing units that will be removed as part of the project,” Gorin told Noozhawk. “The project is conditioned to identify a property, submit an application, and obtain design approval for the replacement housing units before the hotel can open for business.”
And in an unusual move for Santa Barbara, St. George will be posting a still-to-be-identified performance bond that ensures the replacement housing units are constructed. If he, for whatever reason, doesn’t build the units, the City of Santa Barbara can take the security funds and construct them itself, Gorin said.
“It’s a complete redesign,” St. George said. “I put our entire architectural team on it for 12 straight days.”
After the council declined to approve his original project on Nov. 19, St. George had mulled filing a lawsuit against the city. The council didn’t outright reject the proposal, instead giving him until Tuesday to redesign it.
St. George wanted to demolish a four-unit apartment building that he owns on the site and build the three-story hotel, with a coffee shop, a parking garage with 11 spaces and a mechanical parking lift system to accommodate 33 additional vehicles.
Although dozens of people spoke on St. George’s behalf at the meeting, council members told him they wanted to see housing, not a hotel. The project, as originally proposed, did not ask for any zoning exemptions.
Gorin said the new project is much better for the community.
“Our property is mostly a parking lot,” he explained. “It has no aesthetic value and it doesn’t generate much tax revenue for the city. The proposed hotel will bring activity and vibrancy to the surrounding neighborhood. When the project is complete and serving visitors, it will generate significant property tax and transient occupancy tax revenue.
“Four deteriorated residential units on the site will be replaced with six new units offsite. There is no net loss of housing, and the new residential units will have an extended lifespan compared to the existing units they are replacing.”
Tuesday’s meeting begins at 2 p.m at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.