Costa Mesa : Plans for Hotel on Fair Grounds Delayed

Plans for a Ramada Inn on the Orange County Fairgrounds have been delayed after developers decided to scale back their plans in response to studies indicating a saturated hotel market in the county.

Officials of the development firm, TN Properties of Scottsdale, Ariz., said they had been unable to begin obtaining financing for the project because of the time involved in redesigning the plans. The firm was to have obtained financing for the $11.8-million hotel by Dec. 31, 1985.

The 215-room hotel will now be built in two stages, TN general partner Gordon Marks said Wednesday. He said he expects to begin seeking financing for the first, 155-room phase within a month. The Orange County Fair's board of directors approved a contract extension for the firm until Sept. 1 to obtain the financial backing. Completion of the first phase is anticipated by July, 1987.

"We would like to have it open in time for the fair (held annually in July) next year," Marks said. He said having the hotel on the fairgrounds, where it would attract fairgoers as well as people attending conventions and other events, such as concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre, is a "significant factor" in ensuring its success.

Construction of the remaining 60 rooms could begin within two years of completion of the first phase, said Marks, adding that the second phase would also include meeting rooms and restaurants.

A market study done on the hotel plans in 1983 was "very positive," Marks said. But a recent study was not as rosy in predicting occupancy rates. "In the meantime, a lot of other hotels have opened up in Orange County," he said.

The land required has also been reduced from an estimated six acres to 3.8 acres, according to fairgrounds officials, who added that the estimated revenue from leasing the land to TN Properties would be about $258,400 annually. All the state-required environmental impact studies on the hotel, which would be located at the southeast corner of Newport Boulevard and Fair Drive, have been completed.

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