Next week, the City of Santa Barbara begins a street and sidewalk improvement project on lower State Street. This represents the initial, preparatory phase of the planned construction of a 114-unit hotel to be called Entrada de Santa Barbara. On Wednesday, March 6, Michael Rosenfeld, managing partner of Next Century Associates, a Los Angeles-based real estate development company, held an open meeting to discuss with community members his plans for the three parcels his company has acquired on lower State Street. These three properties include the site of the Hotel Californian and were purchased from Mountain Funding, which took over the site after project originator Bill Levy went bankrupt.
Rosenfeld, who spoke with the aid of several large posters containing plans and elevations for his proposed project, began by distinguishing the new concept from what Bill Levy had at one time proposed. “The time share market has collapsed.” Rosenfeld told the 50 or so people who had gathered in the main ground floor room of the veteran’s building on Cabrillo Boulevard. “This happened at the same time that the property was going into foreclosure and the previous owners were going into bankruptcy. We have chosen to take the project in a new direction, one that is better suited to the market situation we confront today. In our plan, there are no time share units. The new hotel will be just that, a hotel, and not a condominium.”
From there Rosenfeld launched into a detailed account of the various design decisions underpinning the plans that his group has presented to the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission. Setbacks, ridgelines, open spaces, and wall heights, among many other factors, were all reviewed. The upshot was a project with more public space, more public parking, and a less aggressive impact on views of the mountains and the ocean. The total amount of retail space proposed is about 12,000 square feet, and the public plaza’s usable open space comes in at a similar figure — approximately 12,400 square feet.
Perhaps the most important news of the evening came when Rosenfeld emphasized the way in which Next Century plans to approach the building of the hotel. “This will be a single phase project,” he said. “We are not going to build one part, then stop, then build another section. Once we get going, we will not stop until we are finished.”
In the question and answer session that followed, Rosenfeld offered the specific time frame of early 2014 for groundbreaking and early 2016 for completion. In his concluding remarks to the initial presentation, Rosenfeld offered the example of his own Spanish Colonial-style home as a model for the way that he and his company plan to operate here.
“When I built my own house, I had the doors hand carved” he said. “The columns were chiselled to order, and the whole thing was done as a custom job, because it is my feeling that when you build, you’ve got to do it right the first time, and that’s the attitude we’re approaching the project here with as well.”