|By Kevin Clerici, Ventura County Star,
Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 18, 2010 - --A 152-room Hyatt Place hotel off Highway 101 in Ventura won approval Tuesday after hotel officials alleviated city concerns about possible blocked views.
The Ventura Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve the four-story hotel proposed for 3.7 acres behind the Golden China restaurant near Seaward Avenue and Highway 101.
San Diego-based developer Pacifica Cos. presented three-dimensional renderings of how the hotel -- 50 feet tall in parts -- would appear from the vantage point of a concerned neighbor's property.
Although some speakers and neighboring business Affinity Group believed the hotel would be too tall and too bland for such a highly visible location, commissioners were satisfied.
"There is a negligible visual impact," said Commissioner Martin Johnson, who defended the hotel's design, saying it underwent extensive city review. "This is not a cookie-cutter project."
Other commissioners agreed, saying the hotel would offer an attractive gateway to the city. "I am satisfied," Commissioner John Hecht said. "In most public hearings, we don't make everyone happy."
Pacifica representative Luis Enrique Terrazas said construction could begin in 2011, barring a setback.
"We really love this project," Terrazas told the commission, referring to the Hyatt Place model as a "business boutique hotel."
"We believe the hospitality market will come back by 2011," he said.
Commissioner Martha Piccotti cast the lone no vote, saying the plans had too little landscaping and too much parking, which she preferred to be underground. Commissioner Scott Boydstun was absent.
The Hyatt is the second major hotel approved in Ventura in the past two years, following the city's OK of a four-story, 189-room Embassy Suites on a vacant, ocean-facing lot next to the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
Construction on the $45 million hotel could begin in a few months as long as some minor interior modifications are OK'd by the city in a meeting scheduled this week, said T.M. Mian, owner and CEO of hotel builder Mian Cos.
Mian, who lives in Camarillo and whose company has corporate offices in Oxnard and Dallas, said he has secured financing for the project. His company built Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Oxnard and Calabasas and is nearing completion of a Homewood Suites by Hilton, an extended stay hotel, at 1950 Solar Drive in Oxnard.
He was confident the global economy would recover and Ventura, with its coastline and emerging downtown, could lure enough visitors to justify the investment.
"We are very, very close to pulling the trigger on it," said Mian, who bought the oceanfront property off Harbor Boulevard nearly two decades ago.
He estimated construction would take 18 months, bringing the multi-story hotel on the market in 2012. "I think the timing is going to be perfect."
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