March 27, 2023
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Led by Parker inn, hotels to make headway in 2014



A conceptual drawing of a new boutique hotel on Santa Barbara’s downtown waterfront, proposed by the family of the late actor and developer Fess Parker. (courtesy image)


After several false starts over the years, the Fess Parker family is moving forward with revised plans for its second waterfront hotel in Santa Barbara, one of a few hotel developments in the city that could see progress in the New Year.

Along with the Parker project, La Entrada on lower State Street and the Miramar Hotel in Montecito might finally be picking up steam.

Ashley Parker Snider, the daughter of the late actor and developer, told the Business Times that the family has scratched original plans for a 150-room hotel and is instead looking at an upmarket boutique inn with 50 to 65 rooms.

“We made the decision to go for a more upscale property, and privacy is key,” she said. “And you’re not going to have that with the previous design.”

The Parker family submitted initial concept drawings to the Historic Landmarks Commission, which held its first conceptual review Dec. 18 for the property at Cabrillo Boulevard and South Calle Cesar Chavez. The next commission meeting on the project is slated for Jan. 15.

“I hope to be very busy with them all of next year,” city planner Bettie Weiss said. “We made it clear we want to be working with them diligently through all of our process.”

Weiss said the project is in the final stage of a development agreement between the Parker family and the city that also included land for Chase Palm Park and a hostel in the Funk Zone that is expected to open in summer 2014.

The inn, which will be located on a three-acre parcel next to the 360-room Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort, sits on the last developable piece of waterfront property in Santa Barbara. Hoping to attract the luxury leisure traveler, it will feature a restaurant and bar, a private dining option and a spa. Parker Snider didn’t have a price tag for the project, but said “it better not be $90 million,” which was the reported cost of the original, larger plan.

She also said it’s too soon to tell when the hotel would be completed. “It’d be optimal for us to open in the spring,” she said, “but I can’t tell you right now if that would be 2017 or 2018.”

The family has been consulting with luxury hotel operator Passport Resorts, behind the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, but there are no immediate plans for the company to manage the Parker property, Parker Snider said. Architect Mike Niemann, who worked on Post Ranch and the El Capitan Canyon Resort in Santa Barbara, is designing the hotel.

The second Fess Parker hotel, currently without a name, has been in the works since the mid-1990s but was stalled for six years prior to the latest revision. Parker Snider said now seemed like a good time to get the ball rolling again, with the improved economy and positive feedback from other hoteliers.

“The stars aligned and we came to the realization that we wanted to give this smaller high-end concept a run,” she said.

La Entrada, Miramar

The second Fess Parker project is among a few South Coast hotel developments that have been stalled, but more movement could be seen in 2014. La Entrada, at the gateway to Stearns Wharf, was bought in 2011 by Los Angeles developer Michael Rosenfeld. Although visible progress has been minimal, Weiss said the developer is following through on conditions and agreements with the city.

“From all indications, in terms of our interactions, the project is progressing,” she said.

Building permits must be obtained by Nov. 15, 2014, said Allison De Busk, a project planner with the city’s planning division, and construction should be completed by June 30, 2016.

A call to Rosenfeld for comment was not returned.

Weiss said existing projects that have already seen a lot of investment are finally moving forward, but she doesn’t think the economy is quite ready for newcomers. “From a planner standpoint, I don’t think this necessarily means we’re going to see lots of new hotel projects,” she said.

To the south, the Miramar Hotel project in Montecito remains at a standstill. Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso purchased the property in 2007 to build a luxury resort, but there has been little headway since. A spokeswoman for Caruso Affiliated said the financial market has been improving and the developer hopes to see progress in 2014.

“We’re still very excited about the project and we are waiting for the right time to build,” she said. “While we wait for the financial market to catch up on the hotel side, we’ve begun to look at the design side of the project.”

Since the project’s approval, all of the historic Miramar structures, some of which dated back to the late 1800s, have been demolished. Santa Barbara County planner Aaron Briggs said the site has essentially been cleaned up, but no other work has been done.

“As a county planner, we’re reactive to what the developer wants to do,” Briggs said. “We’re basically just waiting for them.”