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June 29--SANTA CRUZ -- The city Planning Commission on Thursday approved a Mission Street hotel that was approved four years earlier, but never built.

The panel gave its blessing to build the hotel, a Fairfield Inn & Suites, at 2956 Mission St.

Ahead of the meeting, City planner Ryan Bane had recommended approval, saying the revised project is well-designed, consistent with coastal and zoning plans and compatible with surrounding industrial uses on the Westside.

At 60 percent occupancy and rates of $110 per night, the hotel would generate $200,000 in room taxes per year, according to Bane. Occupancy at city hotels averaged 61 percent last year.

Guests at this location are projected to be 60 percent tourists and 40 percent on business.

The developer is contributing $10,000 toward improving the bike-pedestrian path across Moore Creek to Shaffer Road on top of paying $179,000 in traffic impact fees,

The biggest difference is a new L-shaped design and elimination of underground parking that required extensive excavation.

The City Council approved the hotel development in September 2009 after the economy went into a tailspin, travelers stopped traveling and lenders stopped lending.

"The old hotel was simply too expensive to build and we could not get financing," said Rakesh Patel of Lotus Management in San Jose. "We went back to the drawing board and came up with a hotel that will be more cost-effective for us to

build."

The new hotel would be about 48 feet high, not 50 feet, have two entrances instead of three off Burkett Street, and 83 parking spaces instead of 103.

The developer has an agreement with Wavecrest Development, which owns an office at 2901 Mission St., to provide weekday use of 14 parking spaces, and is asking for a variance to provide 83 spaces instead of 89 required under city regulations.

The city has since revised the zoning ordinance so as not to restrict the number of stories allowed in a 50-foot building in the industrial zone.

The developer will be required to hire an arborist to recommend measures to protect heritage trees on the site during construction.

A pool, breakfast room, fitness room and a 994-square-foot conference room are planned as amenities. The initial plan proposed a pool, breakfast room and library.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz at Twitter.com/jondigumz

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