News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Rob O'Dell, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 19, 2004 - OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The Oceanside City Council is officially looking for a new company to build the beachfront resort that the city has been wanting for nearly two decades.
On Wednesday, the council unanimously approved plans to solicit developers to build a high-end beach resort on two vacant parcels near the city's pier. The city will send information to more than 400 developers and hotel chains, hoping to find a company to build its new resort.
The city's initial request to developers is more of a get-to-know-you affair than a call for bids for a specific project, said city economic development Director Jane McVey. The city will seek formal bids in about six weeks from a group of developers culled from this initial request, she said.
"We're not asking for a project," McVey said, adding that instead the city will be asking "what is your firm, what have you done, and what is your experience."
McVey said the city's initial request will go to developers late this week or early next, and the deadline to respond is April 2. Also, Oceanside will buy ads in The Wall Street Journal, and the San Diego and Orange County business journals.
The council is scheduled to review the responses at its April 21 meeting, and McVey said the formal bid request, or "request for proposals," is scheduled to be issued in late April.
More often at odds than in agreement on the project, the council took an opportunity Wednesday to show that all were in strong support of the project.
"The really important thing is that we are all at the table," said Councilwoman Esther Sanchez. "We are going to do this and we are going to do this together."
Councilman Jack Feller joked that approving the project unanimously made him feel all "gushy" inside.
The city has strict guidelines a new resort must comply with, such as the project must meet the city's Local Coastal Plan and all city code requirements. The coastal plan is a set of development guidelines approved by the California Coastal Commission. The resort also must be compatible with the height, size and bulk of developer Jim Watkins' time-share resort project, which will be built on a lot adjacent to the two city-owned vacant parcels.
Watkins' seven-story resort is scheduled to be completed in early 2006. To prevent an appeal of the project by environmentalists, the city agreed to limit the height of a future adjacent resort to seven stories or fewer.
Carolyn Krammer -- the chairwoman of the Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches, one of the groups that had threatened an appeal of Watkins' resort -- praised the council's decision. Krammer said the site bounded by Pier View Way, Myers Street, Seagaze Drive and Pacific Street, is the premier location left undeveloped on the Southern California coast.
"This is our vision, and not some developer's vision," Krammer said.
Feller and Mayor Terry Johnson said the city couldn't begin a search for a new developer if it had not settled with the site's former developer, Doug Manchester. The city negotiated exclusively with Manchester for nearly five years before the deal fell apart.
In the late 1990s, the city bought into Manchester's vision for a 475-room, 12-story resort that didn't meet the city's Local Coastal Plan -- a guide for development along the coast. The California Coastal Commission ultimately rejected the plan, and later Oceanside and Manchester sued each other, resulting in the city paying Manchester $2.2 million.
The council approved the settlement in a controversial 3-2 split vote, with Feller, Johnson and Councilman Rocky Chavez in support, and Sanchez and Councilman Jim Wood opposed.
"We took a lot of criticism for settling the lawsuit," Feller said, adding that the settlement "allows us to do this now."
-----To see more of the North County Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.nctimes.com.
(c) 2004, North County Times, Escondido, Calif. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.