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Developer Clement Chen Moving Ahead on $70 million 208 room
 Luxury Hotel in Monterey, California; The Site Plan for
 the Hotel was Approved 23 Years Ago
By Andre Briscoe, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Aug. 13, 2006 - Construction is set to begin on Cannery Row Hotel now that the Cannery Row Company has extended a 99-year land lease to San Mateo developer Clement Chen III.

Work will begin next week, during which a section of Cannery Row will be closed to traffic.

Ted Balestreri, Cannery Row Company general managing partner, said leasing the 2.7 acres was one of the project's last major hurdles. The project has been in the works since 1983.

"It's one of the final steps in completing Cannery Row and making it the street we hope it will be someday," said Balestreri, "This (hotel) will be enormously important to Monterey and to residents."

Three buildings will be included in the lease, said Balestreri, co-owner of the popular Sardine Factory restaurant. Balestreri looks forward to welcoming additional shops that will be created.

"They will probably be some of the most interesting retail establishments in Monterey," he said. "Anything less would not be doing this location justice. It will have the most upscale shops on the Peninsula."

The hotel at 750 Cannery Row will have 208 luxury hotel rooms, 10,200 square feet of meeting area, a 95-seat restaurant and 18,500 square feet of retail space.

Completion of the hotel is important to eradicate the last run-down section of the famed street, Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer said.

"It's long overdue. We need to finish the transformation of that area from the blighted condition it's been in for some time now," he said. "It's a very important project and (the lease agreement) is a very important step."

Construction is expected to take 18 months to two years and cost $70 million to $80 million, Meurer said.

The project, which once included a 350-room hotel, was stalled by an environmental lawsuit and the inability of other developers to obtain financing. The site plan for the hotel was approved 23 years ago.

One early investor sunk several million dollars into the project before work stopped in 1986. Later, Woodside Hotels and Resorts, owner of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, found it was struggling to get financing after it signed on in 2000. That year, environmentalists sued because the city continued to extend permits based on a 1983 environmental impact report.

Chen took over the project in 2004. Other hotels that Chen's company has developed and managed include Sheraton, Westin, Holiday Inn, Hilton and Marriott hotels in California, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Cannery Row Hotel will likely be the last hotel built in Monterey. In the 1980s, voters approved a ballot measure that banned all hotel construction, but the hotel project was exempt because it already had a permit.


Andre Briscoe can be reached at 646-4436 or abriscoe@montereyherald


Copyright (c) 2006, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.

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