Chelsea Schreiber

Undeveloped lot in Hermosa Beach to become boutique hotel

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Rendering of the ‘Clash’ hotel courtesy of Envirotechno.

Rendering of the ‘Clash’ hotel courtesy of Envirotechno.

The Clash, a 30-room three story boutique hotel, may soon be moving to town after the City Council voted 4-1 to approve the 29,544-square-foot development on Hermosa Avenue.

“We feel this project is consistent with the council’s strategic plan goal for enhanced economic development and an enhanced downtown,” Hermosa Beach Community Development Department Director Ken Robertson said. “That goal includes a specific objective of more hotels to serve guests and visitors.”

The development plan, led by local Shorewood real estate broker and president of California Custom Homes Raju Chhabria and his partner Rhuai Khosla, positions the hotel on an undeveloped 11,516 square-foot lot at 1429 Hermosa Avenue. A point of contention that is often debated in city meetings, and was no exception for this project, was the amount of parking spaces on-site.

A subterranean parking structure was originally floated, but costs and regulatory requirements prevented such a structure. The most recent plan that was approved on Tuesday allows for 30-onsite spaces, as required by the zoning code. The developers are also required to pay a $28,900 parking in-lieu fee to compensate for the loss of one metered parking space on 15th Street due to realignment of the driveways.

“I think this is a project we can be proud of,” said Councilmember Peter Tucker “To me we’ve compromised in a lot of areas, but to be honest we can’t not allow this if it meets our codes today. I think it will be a great benefit to the city.”

Not everybody was concerned with the amount of parking spaces.

“I think the name of this hotel [The Clash] is asking to be mocked,” Mayor Kit Bobko said. “I’m sure you have reasons for it, maybe somebody likes the band, but I think the ‘Clash’ is just putting a ‘kick me’ sign on your back for this one.”

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) was also granted to the project to include mini-bars in the guest rooms.

“I love the idea of having a boutique hotel,” said local restaurant owner Sean Chaney. “It helps the restaurants around here…We’d love to have [families] stay there. Right now it looks like a million dollar weed garden.”

Local Sheryl Main was concerned about the project and the amount of employees the hotel expects to have on-site at all times.

“Take a long hard look at that building because that’s your legacy,” Main said. “But a 30-room hotel with three employees? You’re talking about wanting this to be a high-class hotel, but to have just three employees, I don’t understand that.”

According to the report, the project is also expected to include two multi-function rooms, a spa as well as a fitness room and lounge. At a Planning Commission meeting on May 22, the developers were asked to restrict all facilities to hotel guests and not allow any of the facilities to be used by non-hotel guests or the public.

Council member Howard Fishman asked the architect about the possibility of downsizing the amount of rooms in the hotel.

“I think its too many rooms for too small a space,” added Councilmember Jeff Duclos.

“We don’t have a restaurant, we don’t have a bar we don’t have any other income sourced on this project,” said Luis de Moraes, principal architect at Envirotechno. “This is a project that is going to cost quite a bit, especially for the quality that we are shooting for. Can we reduce the number of rooms? It’s basic simple economics…We’re getting to a point that if we cut anymore it’s not happening.”

According to the city’s report, the building will conform to the current 30-foot height limit. The developer plans to install solar panels on the roof to reduce the need for electricity, and also plans on installing an electric vehicle charging station.

“We wanted to do it right,” said de Moraes. “We’ve worked very hard to accomplish that.”

“That property has been vacant for five-ish years,” Councilmember Michael DiVirgilio said. “Thank you for doing something with it that is in our code and is as close as possible to meeting our vision.”

He added that he understands the plan to build 30 rooms is a very specific number that helps drive revenue.

“Let’s be clear,” he said. “We set priorities before saying rooms was our priority. Perhaps we could have less rooms if we allowed a restaurant or a community space or conference rooms, perhaps we could have less rooms if we worked something out with parking, but we said we wanted extra parking. I heard them handle the bar and restaurant issue, handle the space and room issue and the extra parking issue …if rooms are our priority what are we going to trade to make less rooms work? We are trying to get to a place where we have our code consistent with our vision, but until then thank god people come forward to meet what our previous vision is and morph it to our present day concerns as best as possible.”

“The future is coming,” Bobko said. “We are not going to have what we have in town today – it’s coming either in the vision we have for it, or the vision someone else has for it. And we have to pick what we want.”

Luis de Moraes estimates construction on the hotel will begin in the winter of 2014 and will be completed in a year and a half. He also said the project’s overall cost is uncertain at this time. ER


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