|By Barbara Henry, North County Times,
Escondido, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September 19, 2009 - A proposal to build a 254-room, Lego-themed hotel at the Legoland California amusement park won approval from the city's Planning Commission earlier this week and now heads to the City Council for a vote.
The council will likely consider the issue by late October or early November, city senior planner Van Lynch said Thursday.
The project needs council and commission approval because it is proposed to be taller than 35 feet, he said.
Under city code, new construction in Carlsbad can be three stories tall and up to 45 feet in height if it gains Council approval.
During their meeting Wednesday, the city's planning commissioners had a few questions for the project's developers related to parking lot access and hotel features.
Then, they voted unanimously to amend city planning documents to allow the hotel proposal to proceed.
Legoland's general manager, Peter Ronchetti, told the Planning Commission that the hotel's rooms would each sleep six to eight guests and some would be elaborately themed.
The most luxurious ones would be the "adventure" rooms, which would look a bit like the Indiana Jones movie sets.
The amusement park's core market is 2- to 12-year-old children, he added.
The three-story hotel's exterior is designed with accents inspired by Lego building blocks.
Among other things, a Lego clock tower feature is planned, Ronchetti said.
After hearing his presentation, commissioners had questions about after-hours access to the hotel.
They also wanted to know more about a proposed water play area near the pool and a night club associated with the hotel's restaurant area.
Ronchetti and consultants for Legoland said that the night club description mentioned on their hotel plans made the area sound a bit more lively than it actually would be.
Given Legoland's family-centered nature, the club area will be very tame, they said.
The hotel is proposed to be built on Legoland's parking area near the amusement park's ticket turnstiles.
Hotel guests will initially enter the property through Legoland's main access road and pay a parking fee, project consultant Bill Hofman said.
After they are checked in, guests would receive a computerized key card that will allow them to use Legoland's back gate off The Crossings Drive.
This way, they will be able to come and go out of the Legoland parking lot even when the amusement park is closed, he said.
The first phase of the project would be 152 rooms. Legoland officials have said they hope to open in 2012.
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Copyright (c) 2009, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.
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