The San Diego Union Tribune (visit link
) reported the following story on October 15, 2010:
"Hotel del Coronado is close to wrapping up a long-term expansion plan that would give the 122-year-old Victorian establishment a better chance at competing with today’s more modern resorts.
On Friday, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved changes to the hotel’s 15-year master plan, which initially won city approval in 2003. The revisions are meant to address concerns raised by residents and two commissioners about building atop an earthquake fault and providing affordable rooms for visitors.
Hotel officials and Coastal Commission staff members, with input from a group of residents, have worked for nearly two years to reshape parts of the master plan. The changes drew support Friday from city officials and some preservationists and residents. Opponents included many people who live in the nearby Coronado Shores condo complex.
“Our goal with this expansion is to remain competitive for the next 50 years,” Todd Shallan, the hotel’s vice president and general manager, said during the commission’s meeting in Oceanside.
Shallan said the hotel will begin “figuring out the process of design and development, as well as financing” for the project.
An earthquake fault that runs underneath the hotel prompted changes to the most recent version of the expansion plan, which the Coronado City Council approved in 2008. Those revisions drew complaints from some city residents, and the plan was appealed to the Coastal Commission.
While the fault line is considered active by geological standards, it hasn’t shown major activity in recent recorded history. State law requires new structures to be designed around the fault, which was updated recently on federal geological maps.
The size of the no-build zone around that fault was a sticking point. A geologist for the Coastal Commission decided in June that the zone should be larger than the one proposed by Hotel del Coronado. Since then, the hotel’s officials have agreed to follow the geologist’s recommendation.
Doing so necessitated a redesign of the northern side of a proposed conference center that has guest rooms above it and a parking structure below. The structure will be 26,000 square feet smaller than initially envisioned.
Other expansion projects noted in the master plan include a new spa, fitness facilities and multimillion-dollar beachfront cottages and villas, all of which have been completed. There also will be 144 more rooms in a structure close to the existing hotel.
Coronado will gain some public improvements tied to the expansion, including two acres of once-private beach, the Paseo del Mar walkway, a new traffic signal at Avenida del Sol, more on-street parking and a new entryway at Orange Avenue and R.H. Dana Place.
A number of opponents complained Friday that they would lose views of the hotel and said the new projects would create visual blight.
The Coastal Commission board members concluded that there were enough mitigation measures — including a flood-control system that would result in a taller walkway and better beach views, and a ban on building structures closer to the ocean than current ones.
The Coastal Commission was concerned that the new high-end hotel rooms might restrict access to affordable overnight accommodations. A discussion resulted in the hotel agreeing to pay a fee of nearly $1.1 million that would be used to build lower-cost overnight facilities, ideally in south San Diego. That is on top of $1 million the hotel already agreed to pay Coronado.
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