|By Stephanie Hoops, Ventura County Star,
Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 12, 2013--The Ventura Port District on Tuesday approved the financing documents the Harbor Island Hotel Group LP will use to expand the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ventura Harbor.
The planned expansion would nearly double the number of guest rooms to 132 from 69. It would also add a harbor view lobby, breakfast room, pool and fitness room.
The owners estimate the expansion would raise more than $2 million annually in guest room revenue and add significantly to tourism traffic at Ventura Harbor. Furthermore, rent paid to the port district, which oversees the harbor, will increase by about $100,000 a year.
The Harbor Island Hotel Group owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at the harbor. The partnership is trying to refinance with its lender, the Land Bank of Taiwan, to pay off the remaining $9 million on a loan it took out in 2006 when it bought the hotel operations and took over the lease. It also is seeking to obtain capital to partially fund the planned expansion.
On Tuesday afternoon, the district commissioners reviewed the loan documents with their attorney, Timothy Gosney, and approved a motion saying the documents conform to lease requirements about permanent improvements to the property. Gosney said the hotel and lender have been cooperating since the matter was raised about a month ago.
The hotel owners are processing entitlement applications with the city of Ventura and the California Coastal Commission, so no date has been set yet for the start of work on the expansion, said the port district's general manager, Oscar Pena.
While considering the hotel expansion, the commission discussed the parking standards set by the Coastal Commission, which are more rigid than the city's.
"A hotel in the coastal zone is required to have more parking than a hotel that's not in a coastal zone," Pena said.
Pena said he didn't have the number of additional parking spaces required on hand but that he wants to change the mandate so that the parking requirements for hotels at the harbor match those for any other hotel in the city.
Commissioner Nicholas Deitch suggested that perhaps the planned expansion is the catalyst for addressing the parking issue.
Pena said the hotel expansion might have been greater were it not limited by the strict parking requirements.
"We think we ought to be on par with what the city does," he said.
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