22 Aug 2014
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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.

Fairmont-Miramar Hotel Awarded Partial Landmark Status Fairmont-Miramar Hotel Awarded Partial Landmark Status

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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