Despite promises by developer Ronald Meer that plans for the Project Bella luxury hotel in Pacific Grove would be moving forward by this month, the project remains at a complete standstill, prompting the city to officially expire Meer's permit application.
The city's director of community and economic development, Mark Brodeur, sent Meer, president and CEO of Domaine Pacific Grove, LLC, a notice on Tuesday that the permit application for Project Bella is officially expired "due to inactivity."
The notice is a "formality," and that Domaine can reapply at anytime, says Brodeur.
Domaine spokesman David Armanasco told the Weekly in an email that the company plans to re-file the application "in the near future."
He says the new application "will contain not only a complete 'project description' but also such things like the architectural drawings, floor plans, landscape plans, engineering drawings and water and engineering calculations plus all the other items listed in the city code for a file to be 'deemed complete' by the City of Pacific Grove."
The city has been waiting for more than a year for Domaine to file plans for the 160-room eco-friendly hotel.
The permit application was opened in October 2015, less than two months after Project Bella was announced by Meer to much fanfare at the American Tin Cannery outlet mall, the proposed hotel site.
When the application was not completed 30 days later, the city sent Domaine a Notice of Incomplete Application, as required by state law, Brodeur says.
Applications that are still incomplete within 180 days are typically considered expired. Project Bella's expiration date was originally in May 2016.
The city extended the application, however, because officials kept thinking plans were on their way, Brodeur says.
There was reason to believe that might be the case. Just a couple of weeks before the May expiration date, Domaine and its supporters in Friends of Project Bella scored a major win in a special election election to change the American Tin Cannery's zoning from retail to hotel.
However, months later there were signs of trouble within the Pacific Grove company, which is owned by Domaine Hospitality Partners, LLC. One of the DHP partners, Michael Crall, resigned his position as development director in November, publicly raising questions about Meer's management of Project Bella.
At a Jan. 11 City Council meeting, Armanasco told the council that despite Crall's questions, Project Bella was moving forward. Meer himself made a similar statement to the Weekly just the day before.
"We've been waiting for them to come back to the table," Brodeur says. When it became apparent by the first week of February that there were still no plans forthcoming, he made the decision to send an official notice.
Editor's note: This post was updated to include statements from Domaine Pacific Grove.