Mapping the New Miramar
Rick Caruso Unveils Plans; Plus, Music Academy Money, Arts News, and J’Amy’s Biking Ways
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Back in January, Rick “The Kid” Caruso strode into town boasting that he could tame the Miramar, Montecito’s dilapidated, abandoned beachfront hotel. He’d have a plan by June, the newcomer crowed. But given the trail-of-tears created by the difficult-to-develop resort - which shrugged off Ian Schrager and toyed with Ty Warner - locals stroked their muzzles, musing this L.A. tenderfoot would have a thing or two to learn about getting things done in Montecito.
By J'Amy Brown
The Miramar as it is today, blue, white, and dilapidated.
But the skeptics did not deter Caruso, so precisely at 3 p.m on June 7, his posse climbed the stairs at the county’s Planning and Development Department to deliver a permit application, making good on his timeframe claim. And the plan isn’t short on detail - it takes nearly a four-inch binder to articulate Caruso’s detailed concept for reorganizing the Miramar Hotel and Bungalows.
With the ball - or binder, as it were - in their court, the county now has 30 days to deem Caruso’s application complete. With some unusual optimism, they have tentatively reserved time for Miramar design feedback on the July 30 Montecito Board of Architectural Review agenda. County departments - flood, building, fire, air pollution, environment, among others - will also take an initial look at the development, which explains why Caruso had to deliver a reported nine boxes of binders to the county. Senior planner Julie Harris has been assigned the project and county planner Nicole Mashore will assist her.
Caruso, we’re told, plays to an on-target-timetable, and his team burned the midnight oil to get the application in on the dime. It’s rumored he intends to have permits in place and ground broken by January 1, 2008. While this would be lightning speed and normally laughable for a Montecito project, with his application delivered on time, doubters are becoming believers. Quick-Draw Caruso could be the big gun to get astonishing things done.
Not chancing a neighborhood grumble to cause a halting stumble, the Caruso team met with Miramar’s closest neighbors simultaneously with the application’s delivery. At 3:05 p.m. on June 7, Caruso’s Bill Reich, vice president of hotels and resorts, and Rick Lemmo, vice president of community relations, sat down for to reveal the project to inner-circle Miramar neighbors Steve Traxler (president of the Seaside Homeowners Group), Mimi and Michael DeGruy, and Mike and Laura Lodato. And rather than the standard Montecito anti-modification moan, this courtesy review group greeted the plan with cheery “Here’s to the New Year!” toasts.
Traxler said one unique aspect of the plan, and one that requires strong neighborhood support, will be to vacate the Miramar Avenue, which currently splits the hotel property in two segments. “Caruso is working closely with us to make that (road abandonment) happen,” Traxler said.
The look proposed by Rick Caruso for the remodeled Miramar bungalows.