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Fairmont-Miramar Hotel Awarded Partial Landmark Status

Vote by the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission comes as the hotel awaits approval for a major renovation.

A part of the Fairmont-Miramar Hotel—the Ocean Avenue hotel that could undergo a controversial redo and expansion—has been granted a landmark designation by the city.

The Landmarks Commission voted 5-1 Monday night to designate the Palisades Wing, a brick clad, L-shaped building at corner of Second Street and California Avenue that was built in 1924.

It also voted to designate as a landmark the land on which the hotel sits, "which means that all activity on the site could be subject to some degree of review by the commission or city staff, according to the Santa Monica LookOut.

The commission postponed a decision on whether to exempt the hotel from having to secure city approvals before cleaning or doing maintenance work and repairs to the landmarked areas.

"We reinvest in the hotel all the time, every day," said Alan Epstein, a hotel representative. "We simply can’t be coming back to the Landmarks Commission every day for approvals to do projects."

In a separate application, the hotel's owners are also seeking city approval to redevelop the site by razing its administration building and 10-story Ocean Tower to make room for three new towers. The plans call for preserving and rehabbing the Palisades Wing and the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, a 133-year-old tree previously landmarked in 1976.

The new construction is opposed by many Wilshire-Montana area residents. It would nearly double the hotel's floor area with the addition of up to 160 condos and new retail outlets.

The Miramar Hotel is owned by an affiliate of MSD Capital L.P., an investment firm with offices in Santa Monica, New York and London.

The property’s ownership has changed hands many times since the firm’s purchase in 2006 and its first use as a hotel in 1924 by Gilbert Stevenson, who built the Palisades Wing. (The area that includes the Miramar hotel property was part of the original town of Santa Monica. The town's founder, John P. Jones, retired on the property).

The Palisades Wing originally functioned as an apartment hotel. Popular in the 1920s in beach resort towns in Long Beach, Santa Monica and neighborhoods west of downtown Los Angeles, they typically featured "courtyards, fountains, basements, gracious lobbies, and facilities associated with maid service," according to a report from the city's landmark consultants, PCR Services Corp.

Eight one-story bungalows were added in 1938 on the periphery of the landscape along California and Ocean avenues. Commissioners opted not to landmark the bungalows because they had were "highly altered and do not contribute to the significance of the property."

The Ocean Tower opened 20 years later under the ownership of another hotelier, Joseph Massaglia.

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Dan Charney January 17, 2013 at 08:22 AM
The proposed expansion of this hotel must be stopped. The already congested area cannot take and does not need any more traffic or congestion. This "Bloom and Co" deal must go- enough- let the conglomerate with it's offices ruin someone else's city.
AR January 17, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Dan, respectfully I think you are mistaken. The area will not become more congested, the property needs a reboot and this is the best possibility. Open street access to the hotel and fig, refreshed hotel ammenities, and affordable housing for the city/community. It really is a win win for the city, owner, and Fairmont operator.
Dan Charney January 17, 2013 at 09:53 PM
AR- I do not call twice the already existing size a 're-boot'- what it needs is a good design reno- as for affordable housing- stop joking- Community Core and it's cubicles and few units the city gets is a joke- there is no win-win here at all except for the owner- the city get more tourists, car trips, congestion and another big hotel- wow - like we really need more- the hotel is fine as is- leave some places alone- just because they are a large conglomerate that wants 'more' - does not make it good- the location alone is saturated.
Dan Charney January 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM
This whole joke about 'affordable housing' is something that needs to be seen for what it is- there are minimal units and they do not make them available to many of the neediest of people. This argument is not valid when you see it clearly. Plus- a few units to make up for all the misery it will cause is simply no argument. Bottom line- they are a business- they want more money- they don't care what they do to an already choking area. Let's stop kidding anyone. We are a town now divided between those who want a government than runs this city well on revenue that does not force it to be destroyed for Silicon Beach and all the trendy disloyal and temporary fixes it brings.
JohnCySmith.com January 17, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Since when did Luxury Condos in Santa Monica become Affordable?
Dan Charney January 17, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Since they shovel a few cubicles in the back area -worst spots and tiny spaces to satisfy the city - then Community Core drills the people like something out of Zero Dark Thirty to weed out the undesirables - such absurdity
Mike E. January 18, 2013 at 03:21 AM
If the area won't be more congested, how will the hotel be reconstructed? Aren't building trades workers, trucks, and heavy equipment required? Won't the retail shops and restaurants attract customers? How will they get their merchandise and supplies unless it's trucked in? When the developers win, the people lose. I know because I've lived here 36 years, and I've seen the relentless attacks corporate developers have waged against us. How is it that the residents almost universally oppose more development yet the City Council continues to force more development on us? Who's in charge here, anyway -- us or the developers?

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