January 28, 2023
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Dubroff: Rick Caruso gets his moment and Miramar gets the green light


Henry Dubroff

Henry Dubroff

It was literally a “Rick Caruso moment” before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

With the final opposition fading away and his project tweaked a bit on issues such as beach club membership, the estimated $200 million Miramar Hotel & Resort project finally got its approval on April 14.

It’s worth noting that Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Business Times, written slightly more than 15 years ago, featured a story about the first plans for reconstructing the Miramar.

Three owners and a decade and a half later, the rebuilding of an iconic beachside resort finally appears to be coming to fruition.

What’s particularly good about this deal is that it’s being done at a time when interest rates are low and hotel demand is high. Caruso should be able to finance his deal easily and the once-sought-after tax breaks from Santa Barbara County have vanished into the rear view mirror.

The not-so-dirty little secret about the Miramar is that Santa Barbara County needs the tax revenue it will throw off more than Caruso, a legendary developer and major player in Los Angeles, needs this deal. And in the end, neighbors need to have something built on the vacant and decaying eyesore that the Miramar has become.

I suppose there will be a groundbreaking of sorts and perhaps Caruso will get another moment or two to celebrate accomplishing what Ian Schrager and Ty Warner before him could not. Caruso is a good developer, and a great developer when he’s not hemmed in by rules as he was at The Lakes in Thousand Oaks.

Let the dirt begin to move.

Closure for Countrywide

Nearly a decade after it agreed to buy home lender Countrywide Financial Corp., Bank of America has begun to put its legal woes behind it.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company’s first quarter profit of $3.36 billion or 27 cents per share missed analyst estimates by two cents, but costs related to lawsuit settlements fell 90 percent.

Bank of America’s financial health, and particularly the health of its mortgage unit, is important to the region because the company’s servicing operations in Simi Valley are a major employer in Ventura County. A year ago, the company reported a $6 billion litigation charge stemming from mortgage settlements.

Why Bank of American acquired ailing Countrywide is still a mystery, especially since it was not indemnified from legal claims when it bought the Calabasas-based lender and subsequently Merrill Lynch. Both were on the verge of collapse.

They say that the true costs and benefits of mergers don’t become clear for years. Perhaps Countrywide will pay off for Bank of America, but it’s taken a long, long time.

Happy 100th, Jordano’s

This issue of the Business Times contains a special treat for our subscribers.

Since late last year, we’ve worked closely with Jordano’s President Peter Jordano, his son, Jeff, and assistant Jo Ann Cavaletto to produce a 100th anniversary publication for the region’s dominant food service and beverage distributor. 

Jordano’s also helped underwrite the cost of producing “Jordano’s: A Century of Progress.”

This corporate history is a first-ever effort for the Business Times and in producing it, we learned a lot of lessons about what it means to navigate a company through a century of challenges. I’m grateful to our team, including freelance writer Tom Bronzini, graphic designer Cory Pironti and Publisher Linda le Brock, for their efforts.