Ty Warner Selling The Miramar

Ty Warner, concerned that he wouldn’t be
able to get a fair shake when the Montecito Association considers
his plans to rebuild the Miramar Hotel, says he’s selling the
seaside resort property.

Warner, stung by renewed criticism from the key advisory body,
will be immediately contacting suitors who in recent months have
expressed interest in buying the Miramar, for which he paid $43
million several years ago, according to Greg Rice, Warner’s
executive vice president.

Ironically, Warner had already prepared plans for a
“family-oriented” hotel as opposed to the five-star “edgy” resort
proposed a few years ago by hotelier Ian Schrager, Rice said.

“We went through a lot of effort, working out plans and were
ready to file” for permits, Rice said. Warner personally went
through plans for every room, the spa, restaurant, beach bar,
landscaping, pool and other facilities, Rice said. He has even
created model rooms.

“It was a painful decision for Ty,” Rice said, “but I don’t see
how we could possibly get a fair shake” from the Montecito
Association, based on its renewed attack, a four-page letter sent
widely to Montecito residents. It is “alarming” when a body that
will consider your project “attacks you,” Rice said.

Rice told of Warner’s decision in a mailer to many residents,
dated Nov. 22 and received Friday in which he challenged many
statements in the nonprofit association’s letter. “This letter is
to thank you and the Montecito community for the outpouring of
support we have received in our ongoing struggle to stop the abuse
of power by a handful of local decision makers . . . “ Rice
wrote.

No price tag has been set for the Miramar, Rice said, but he
expects that a sales price will far exceed the $43 million paid by
Warner, when he was widely hailed by the community for “saving” the
property. It became, and remains, an eyesore after Schrager razed
part of the property, then left it in that condition for lack of
construction funds.

When I queried Rice recently about rumors that the Miramar was
for sale, he replied that several entities had inquired but that
Warner had no plans to sell. But now, Rice said, he will be
contacting about seven or eight who had inquired to determine their
interest. They were mostly “hotel types” or condo-hotel
enterprises, some local, others national, he said. No doubt this
week’s announcement will draw other possible buyers.

Any buyer would presumably be transferred the existing legal
entitlement for a 213-room hotel, but would then have to present
plans to the county to obtain a building permit.

The Miramar, its blue roofs familiar to generations of visitors,
enjoys easy access from the freeway and one of the best beaches on
the South Coast, but like the Warner-owned Four Seasons Biltmore
and Fess Parker’s Doubletree, has to cope with noise from the
adjacent railroad.

Although some may urge Warner to reconsider his decision to
sell, Rice said he was “not likely” to change his mind.

Meanwhile, Warner has just visited two sites on Mexico’s west
coast seeking out what Rice called “replacement” properties now
that he is selling the Miramar. Rice declined to say where the
properties were, other than to say one was an existing hotel or
resort and the other undeveloped land.


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