The Architectural Board of Review on Monday gave a predominantly positive appraisal of a three-room hotel annex at 311 West Montecito Street, part of developer Ed St. George’s latest attempt at changing the face of the beachside neighborhood tucked between Castillo Street and the train station by providing several interconnected hotels and annexes along Montecito Street. The board voted 5-2 in favor of moving the project along for further review despite some questions over the design.
This is the latest in a 43-room, three-piece puzzle of a hotel that will be stretched across three locations on Montecito Street. The largest, a 34-room, three-story main hotel at 302 and 308 West Montecito Street, was recently approved and received permits from the city. A smaller, nine-room annex with a parking structure on the corner of Montecito and Castillo streets was recently slammed by members of the Historic Landmarks Commission, where commissioner Ed Lenvik called the building the “most pedestrian-unfriendly element of anything we can imagine.” The commission took no vote, and the project is expected to return for another review.
The much smaller three-unit hotel annex gained support from a majority of the boardmembers on Monday. The two members opposed, Richard Six and Board Chair Kevin Moore, said the project needed some clear direction before moving on to the next step. There were also concerns raised about the privacy and security of the location, which would force guests to make the walk across the street and to the main hotel on the corner for parking, check-in, and concierge service.
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“My no vote was generally because I don’t think the project design is quite ready yet,” Moore said. “We have no way of knowing if there are any conflicts or issues with the neighbors. We just don’t have enough information to give the Staff Hearing Officer proper direction.”
Officially, the design was approved to be forwarded to the city’s Staff Hearing Officer program for review, after which it will return to the Architectural Board of Review for a final approval.
Boardmembers were generally in support of the project’s size and scale, which called for three units each with their own kitchenette, living room, two bedrooms, and outdoor space, but the board left comments for city staff and the project planners to consider before it returns for another review.
Specifically, the board asked to see “continuing development according to the guidelines along the streetscape,” some more in-depth photos of surrounding sites, and details regarding the hotel annex’s perimeter fencing and landscape materials when the project returns for final approval.
St. George had another project scheduled for review on Tuesday — a four-story, 19-unit residential apartment building at 425 Santa Barbara Street — but the review was postponed indefinitely. No official dates have been set for these projects.