The Planning Commission is far from impressed by the look of two hotels a developer proposes erecting near Pacific Coast Highway and the 10 Freeway.
If later awarded approval by the City Council, the hotels will be built in 2015 at the northeast and northwest corners of 5th Street and Colorado Avenue.
"These are incredibly disappointing designs," said Commissioner Richard McKinnon.
As proposed, the projects are:
- Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton at 501 Colorado Ave.: a 22,500-square foot, five-story hotel with 136 guest rooms and a two-level underground parking garage.
- Courtyard by Marriott at 1554 Fifth St.: 22,500-square foot, six-story hotel with 136 guest rooms; a two-level underground parking garage; and a rooftop, open-air deck with lounge areas, fire pits, and a small pool.
Michael Gallen, director of development for OTO Development, said the designs will be redone based on the commission's input. The plans will eventually make their way to the city's Architectural Review Board and back again to the Planning Commission.
“We’re glad to hear the comments and move forward from this meeting with a better understanding of what the community is wanting," Gallen said.
City planning staffers said the hotels should create a "gateway" for drivers who enter downtown from the 5th Street exit of the 10 freeway.
Each building should have its own, strong, unique "expression," they wrote in a memo to the Planning Commission, "while creating a singular 'gateway' destination that creates identity and a sense of place in the downtown."
But "currently, the two hotels appear related given the projects are similar in use, building mass, bulk, and height, sense of proportions, materials, color, setbacks, and design."
Concerns were also raised at Wednesday's meeting about demolishing one or more of the three buildings at 1554 5th St., where the Courtyard could be built and which are currently occupied by a Midas and Royalty Auto Body Shop.
There's a possibility the buildings have some historical significance.
Nina Fresco, a member of the city's Landmark Commission, said it has received influx of emails and letters that show the site might have been the location where the first flying car was built and the site of the first mass production facility for airplanes.
Fresco said the Landmark Commission would make a decision on the status of the buildings in early 2012. If the buildings are declared landmarks, the developers said they would be precluded from building the hotel.