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Expansion Plans for the Hotel del Coronado, a San Diego National Historic Landmark,
Altered by a Small but Active Earthquake Fault
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By Janine Zúñiga, The San Diego Union-TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

CORONADO – September 8, 2008 - The Hotel del Coronado's plans to keep the 120-year-old Victorian resort more competitive into the 21st century have been placed on hold.

Last week, city leaders requested more time to consider changes to proposed expansion plans for the hotel, a National Historic Landmark. The changes were prompted this year by a small but active earthquake fault.

HOTEL DEL'S PLANS

The City Council will consider requested changes to the Hotel del Coronado's master plan at a meeting Sept. 16.

Master plan documents may be found online at uniontrib.com/more/hotel;, at the city library, 640 Orange Ave.; and at City Hall, 1825 Strand Way.

Coronado approved the hotel's long-term master plan in 2003. Among other additions and upgrades, the plan has a new spa and fitness facilities and multimillion-dollar for-sale beachfront cottages and villas.

State law required the hotel to design around the earthquake fault. Any changes to the master plan require city approval.

On Tuesday, nearly two dozen residents and business owners spoke at a public hearing. Supporters and opponents of changes to the 2003 plan were about even.

The City Council voted 4-1 to accept an environmental impact report addendum that reveals fewer effects from the proposed changes. Councilman Casey Tanaka voted no because he had issues with the larger height and scale proposed for South Beach, where a building is proposed on the southern edge.

The council unanimously agreed to postpone adopting the hotel's 2008 amended master plan, parking plan and development agreement. Councilman Al Ovrom wanted more time to decide, and the item was continued to Sept. 16.

Bill Dodds, vice president of development, said he feels the hotel has done a good job of incorporating public suggestions into the plan. For example, floors were stepped back in the South Beach building to afford a better view of the ocean. Dodds called them “appropriate for being neighborly and for achieving the hotel's needs.”

One of the major changes to the 2003 master plan includes moving 31 approved guest rooms on top of a planned 20,000-square-foot meeting space. It also includes moving 26 more rooms to South Beach, already approved for 87 rooms.

Some residents said the changes resulted in a denser project. While the number of rooms has not changed, they are larger and front a public street between the hotel and the Coronado Shores condominium complex.

Dodds said the hotel needs larger rooms to remain competitive. He said 80 percent of the hotel's rooms are 350 square feet or smaller. The new rooms are being proposed at an average of 575 square feet.

“Our beach condos are the newest product we've had in 30 years,” said Dodds, adding that at an average 670 square feet, they've been well received.

Some residents requested a more thorough environmental review. Still others complained that South Beach was too bulky.

“We won't see the Christmas lights in full view anymore,” said Deirdre Price, a Coronado Shores resident.

Councilwoman Carrie Downey said the changes meet all codes and that the “historical view” of the hotel will be better than what had been proposed.

If the changes are approved, Dodds said the hotel will begin building one of three underground parking structures sometime in early 2010. The master plan calls for 70 percent of hotel parking to be below ground.

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To see more of The San Diego Union-Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.uniontrib.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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