Back To The Drawing Board?
Oldtown Salinas hotel-and-condo project may shrink.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The most current development plan for the 100 block of Oldtown Salinas looks like this: 167 hotel rooms in an eight-story building; 104 condos in a 14-story building; tens of thousands of square feet of office and retail space; 465 parking spaces; 250 jobs. Or does it?
Sources tell the Weekly the property’s developers, a group of longtime locals known as Salinas City Center Partnership, have plans to dramatically reduce the size of the project. While city officials won’t confirm the developers’ scaled-back plan for the block, Salinas City Manager Dave Mora says the project is under reconsideration by the developer, and a redesign is in the works.
Peter Kasavan, a member of the Partnership, says the group is refining its original plan, but says he isn’t in a position to talk about specifics. Kasavan does say the number of condos will depend upon the housing market, and the building would be “up to 14 stories, based upon the market conditions at the time the project is finalized.”
In December 2005, the Salinas City Council voted unanimously to grant the Partnership exclusive rights to develop the property.
But today, neither the real estate market nor the economy look nearly as good as they did in 2005 when the City gave the Partnership the green light. Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue says this is why he’s not concerned about the prospect of a more viable, smaller-gauged project. “This is a smart group of guys,” Donohue says. “They’re looking at the big picture.”
Mora says the Partnership has recently begun an extensive review of the initial plan to see what is feasible.
“My assumption is that the developer will then come back to the City Council with a proposal of any new direction they intend to take,” Mora says. “I think what the Council would then have to consider is whether or not what is being proposed is still consistent with the City’s overall plan for development of that particular block. The core element of the 100 block has always been a hotel.”
Donohue wouldn’t comment on what he may or may not know about a downscaled project, but did say that as long as a high-quality hotel is still on the drawing board, “a smaller scale and a slightly different focus is OK.”
Mora is quick to point out that smaller projects were considered but rejected by the Council in 2005, before Donohue’s tenure. “And that’s something we’ll need to think about,” Mora says.
Pacific Grove’s Agha Construction and Development proposed a 113-room hotel and eight-story building with 112 condos. San Francisco-based Euro Worldwide Investments’ proposal included 101 hotel rooms and 20,000 square feet of retail space. Both were passed over in favor of the larger-scale plan.
Whether the Partnership’s project turns out to be 14 stories or four, the Partnership has solid community support. “This is a group of locals who know the local community and how it works,” says Oldtown resident and Cherry Bean owner Todd Williams. “Getting people down here and giving them a place where they can live in the Oldtown community is the only way to inject life into Oldtown. I have every bit of faith that these guys know how to do it, and that it will be done, regardless of the size.”
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The approximate proportion of California children affected by tooth decay by the time they reach the third grade. A new state law requires kids to get a dental exam their first year of school. Source: Dental Health Foundation. Learn more about children’s oral health at cda.org. co-authored by Assemblyman John Laird.