A year and six months after receiving final approval to build his long-awaited Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito resort, developer Rick Caruso has scheduled a private groundbreaking ceremony for October 10, followed by lunch at Lucky’s.
Email invitations were issued Monday afternoon and came soon after Caruso’s Los Angeles development firm sent letters to Montecito “friends and neighbors” announcing, “We are pleased to share with you that the targeted grand opening is now summer 2018.”
That rough target was pushed back from the hard April 30, 2018, date Caruso promised for the Miramar’s grand opening party when the County Board of Supervisors gave its final blessing for the 170-room, $185 million hotel back in April 2015. At that time, Caruso also said grading at the 1555 South Jameson Lane site would begin in February 2016; it is now scheduled to start next month.
The nine-month grading delay had prompted speculation and frustration among Montecitans, who wondered if the project — the third proposed for the beachfront property after it was abandoned and left to rot in 2000 — was still moving forward. Theories for the delay ranged from financing issues to permitting problems to a fall out with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, the Hong Kong-based luxury resort operator that will manage the Miramar.
Rosewood, however, assured it is still partnered with Caruso Affiliated; its president Radha Arora will attend Monday’s groundbreaking. County officials also stated Caruso has secured the necessary permits to begin grading, and that building designs are being vetted on schedule. “We believe our reviews and approvals of various aspects of the project are progressing in a timely manner,” said county building and safety manager Massoud Abolhoda in an email. Earlier this year, the Montecito Water District board voted to waive the rules of its water moratorium for Caruso, so he could replace three of the five water meters at the property with larger meters to comply with fire regulations.
Caruso Affiliated spokesperson Matt Middlebrook declined to comment on the Miramar’s financing or any other aspect of its construction timeline. “The project is moving forward,” he said. Rosewood, it has been reported, has no financial stake in the project. Caruso is financing the Miramar through a construction loan and the company’s own equity.
Other Santa Barbara hoteliers have noted that a large number of luxury market hotel rooms will come online at around the same time the Miramar is scheduled to open — La Entrada de Santa Barbara will soon boast 123 high-end hotel rooms along lower State Street; the Santa Barbara Inn has 70 newly renovated rooms right on the ocean; and the Fess Parker is toying with the idea of adding 60 new rooms on a nearby parcel of beachfront land. That surge, coupled with currently high construction costs, may have spooked Caruso’s lenders and could explain the slow progress thus far, the hoteliers said.
Sylmar-based building firm Tutor Perini Corp. was selected as the Miramar’s lead contractor. The “ultra luxury resort,” a Tutor Perini spokesperson said, will feature two restaurants, two swimming pools, a spa, fitness center, membership-only beach club, theater, and 6,000-square-foot ballroom.
The Miramar is Caruso’s first hotel venture. He previously built The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, Americana at Brand in Glendale, as well as a number of condominiums and apartments throughout the Southland.