|By Lola Sherman, The San Diego
Union-TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 10, 2009 - OCEANSIDE -- For decades, one of the first buildings seen by motorists southbound on Interstate 5 into Oceanside was the landmark Flying Bridge Restaurant and adjacent Bridge Motor Inn.
The motel was remodeled a few years ago into a Guest-house Inn, but the iconic, rock-faced restaurant remained as it was.
Now, plans call for the structures to be razed and replaced with a four-story Hyatt Place Hotel and a separate, four-story condominium complex on the 2.8-acre bluff top overlooking Oceanside Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
A public walkway and viewing platform are planned as part of the project.
The designers have added a tower that they hope will make the hotel look distinctive so it will become a new landmark.
"A tower disguised as a lighthouse will serve as a distinguishing feature on the building's eastern end, which will be highly visible from Interstate 5," the project's environmental impact report states.
Members of the city's Redevelopment Advisory Committee have said that the tower should contain a lounge to take advantage of the view. But Kathy Baker, city redevelopment manager, said property owner Shantu Patel has said that putting an elevator in the tower would be too expensive.
"I'm thrilled that they are increasing the number of hotel units" because the city collects room taxes on them, Baker said. But she's also happy that the room rates will stay "affordable" -- under $150 a night -- because the California Coastal Commission is requiring a set number of what are called affordable units in the coastal zone.
The original motel on the property, the 1920s El Real Auto Court -- small bungalows separated by carports -- was followed by the Bridge Motor Inn in 1943 and the restaurant 20 years later.
Baker said that although the economy is bad, Patel has declared that he has the wherewithal to proceed with the project.
However, Baker said, people come into her office all the time, saying they can go ahead with a project, and "they're all on hold right now."
Patel could not be reached for comment.
The public can comment on the report, available on the city's Web site and at the city Planning Department, until June 5.
A conditional-use permit will be needed from the City Council for the project because it would exceed the allowable height limit of 45 feet and because parking would be shared between the hotel and a new restaurant to be built on the property.
The 127-room hotel and 3,000-square-foot restaurant have been designed for a 61-foot height, and the 24-unit condo building for a 59-foot height.
By rule, 212 parking spaces would be required. The project proposes 171.
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