By Gray Scott, The Business Press, Ontario, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 25--When RogersDale U.S.A. left Temecula in March, it didn't just leave behind its former home. It also abandoned its original hotel plan. Now that the entertainment center project is one month away from breaking ground in Murrieta, RogersDale's partners have a new hotel vision -- and a new developer enlisted to fulfill it.
The new plan calls for a Western-themed, independent hotel, rather than adding another property to Wingate Inc.'s or Wyndham Hotel Corp.'s corporate chain, as was originally planned.
"We had a different hotel in mind, one that would work better at the Murrieta triangle," RogersDale partner and developer Zev Buffman said, referring to the project's 65-acre location between Interstates 15 and 215. "It would be heavily themed. It would look like another member of the RogersDale project."
The Western-themed RogersDale entertainment center is named for cowboy movie stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Their son, Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., is a partner in the project. The center would include shops, restaurants, an auditorium and an 8,200-seat sports arena.
The developers chosen to create and run the themed hotel are principals in Brown Hotel Group Inc., a Westlake Village-based hotel brokerage firm. The principals plan to form a separate corporation for the RogersDale property, which will be called RogersDale Hotel.
"We have preliminary plans for about a 250-suite hotel. That can go up or down, depending on our feasibility study," said George E. Brown, chairman of Brown Hotel Group and the likely president of the unformed corporation. The feasibility study is slated for completion within about three weeks, according to Brown.
Brown said he and his partners have been working with Buffman on the hotel project for about six months. They don't have a definitive contract yet, but "we have signed an agreement in principle" which will be in effect until all the construction details are worked out, he said. Developers envision a tiered structure, with just six suites on the sixth floor, 30 on the fifth floor, 45 on the fourth and the balance on the bottom three floors, Brown said. The rooms get larger with each floor, and range in size from 500-square-foot "minisuites" to a pair of 2,000-square-foot suites sharing a 900-square-foot courtyard on the top floor. Total square footage would probably be in the 250,000-square-foot range, Brown said.
The tiering leaves room for roof gardens that guests on each floor can walk through, Brown said. Other planned features include meeting rooms, a central courtyard with pool and fountain, and concierge service on the fifth floor. Many of those specifications could change, however, which is why Brown is skittish about making precise cost predictions for the project. He thinks the price will probably fall between $15 million and $20 million.
Brown and his partners have developed four other hotels, including the Inn of Lancaster and an Embassy Suites in Lompoc, he said. Brown Hotel Group also buys and sells hotels.
The RogersDale-related hotel envisioned for Temecula was to be developed by F&J Family Trust of Marina Del Rey. Run by a family of mother, father and four daughters, the trust has built 10 hotels since 1942 -- and hopes to build 12 more.
But a 250-room Temecula hotel won't be one of them, family patriarch Jack Stewart said.
When the RogersDale partners abandoned Temecula in March to escape persistent
project opposition, it meant there wasn't anything left to draw traffic
for the proposed $20 million hotel, Stewart said. "The hotel in Temecula
is no longer viable," he said. Stewart has discussed possible deals for
smaller hotels in Temecula, "but they'd be nothing like what we'd planned
originally," he said. He's having a hard time getting excited about a smaller
hotel. "I'm not sure that I'm interested" in a smaller property, Stewart