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Developer of $70 million Escondido Marriott Feels Years of Delays
Allowed Team to Significantly Improve Final Project

By David Garrick, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 13, 2010--New details emerged Thursday night about the $70 million Marriott planned for downtown Escondido, including a delayed construction timeline, the possibility that spa memberships might be offered to residents and how the parking garage would be insulated from groundwater.

Craig Clark, the developer planning the seven-story hotel, said during a public workshop at City Hall that he expected construction to continue into 2013. Previous estimates had the hotel opening in 2012.

Clark said he expected to break ground in late 2010 or early 2011 if the project is approved by the city's Design Review Board Aug. 26 and by the Planning Commission in September. But he said the need to relocate some utilities and other complications meant the hotel would probably not open until 2013.

Dusty Ucker, director of design and construction for Clark, said one of those complications was building such a tall and complex structure between two other large structures, City Hall and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

"This is a tough little project in that it's sandwiched," he said.

Because City Hall and the arts center must remain open during construction, a "safe zone" will be created around the hotel's underground parking garage during construction, said Chip Swanson, senior project manager for Jaynes Construction. In addition, Swanson said, a temporary covered walkway would be created between the hotel and City Hall to protect people during construction.

Clark said another hurdle was deciding when to close the arts center's conference wing, which Clark will take over Oct. 1 and remodel sometime before the hotel opens.

He said some events might be moved outdoors into tents if they are scheduled for times when the conference wing is being remodeled.

Ucker said another challenge was watery soil underneath the hotel, which will require the parking garage to be a "bathtub structure." The garage will extend 30 feet below street level and the water table in the area begins 12 feet below street level, so Ucker said construction workers will have to "waterproof our hole as we dig it."

Larry Kimball, director of hotel development for Clark, said area residents might be allowed to use the hotel's pool, jacuzzi and fitness center by paying some sort of membership fee. But Kimball said no decisions on that had been made.

The design team said years of delays on the project, which was finally approved by the City Council June 30 with more than $10 million in city subsidies, had actually allowed Clark to significantly improve the project.

The delays allowed us to "come up with a better mousetrap," Ucker said.

An example cited was the pool, which has been moved from the ground floor to the second floor. Ucker said that change would allow pool users to look out on to Grape Day Park and would make the pool area sunnier and more breezy.

Another addition is the 20-foot-wide "paseo" between the hotel and City Hall, which has been designed to allow firefighters to easily access the hotel during a fire.

The paseo, a long and narrow pathway, has been designed to match the look of a large pedestrian plaza planned for south of the hotel on Maple Street.

The hotel will also have a giant lobby featuring "themed" areas, a 120-seat restaurant, a lounge and a concierge desk.

Call staff writer David Garrick at 760-740-5468.


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Copyright (c) 2010, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.

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