Surf City's long-delayed seaside redevelopment project may get a jump-start from a 300-unit time-share resort being proposed by an affiliate of Hilton Hotels Corp.
The hospitality giant has signed a letter of intent with Waterfront Partners, developers of the 50-acre coastline project, to construct a time-share vacation complex next to the Waterfront Hilton Beach Resort hotel along Pacific Coast Highway, city officials and project developers said.
The new resort could give much-needed momentum to the city's downtown redevelopment plans, which were stalled by recession and the 1993 bankruptcy of Waterfront Partners.
Although Hilton's participation is not a done deal, "we are actively working to make it a reality," said Randy Carroll, executive director of development for Hilton Grand Vacations Co., a time-share joint venture by Hilton Resorts Co., a Hilton subsidiary, and Grand Vacations Ltd. of Orlando, Fla. "We are pursuing it with full vigor."
Initial plans call for 280 to 320 time-share units to be constructed on as many as 12 acres of land next to the Waterfront Hilton hotel near the intersection of Beach Boulevard and PCH.
While the design has not been finalized, Hilton time-shares typically resemble luxury condos, with large kitchens, whirlpool baths and other upscale appointments. Standard resort amenities could include a pool, tennis courts, an activity center, a restaurant and a lounge, said Carroll, who added that time-share guests would be encouraged to use Waterfront Hilton hotel facilities as well.
Prices for the time-shares have not been established, but a one-week stay in perpetuity in a two-bedroom unit at comparable Hilton resorts runs about $15,000.
Area hotel watchers say the pairing of time-share units with traditional hotels is a growing trend in the hospitality industry. Hilton Grand Vacations has followed the pattern at other time-share developments, including its 200-unit Hilton Grand Vacations Club next to the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas.
Time-share guests provide a welcome boost to the hotel's restaurants and shops, while the hotel acts as a natural marketing tool drawing potential buyers to the time-share project, said Bruce Baltin, senior vice president of PKF Consulting, a Los Angeles-based hospitality industry consulting firm.
"There's a synergy created," Baltin said. "It spreads the risk between the hotel and the time-share."
Huntington Beach officials said it could take several months for the project to gain all necessary approvals, including a zoning change to allow time-share units on the seaside parcel, which runs along Pacific Coast Highway between Beach Boulevard and Huntington Street. Site preparation could take even longer, because the development would displace residents of a mobile home park on the site. The shuttered Huntington Beach Inn would also have to be razed to make way for other new development on the parcel.
"It won't happen tomorrow," said David Biggs, Huntington Beach's director of economic development. "But it's very realistic . . . within the next year."
The time-share project is part of a revised development plan being pursued by Waterfront Partners principals Steve Bone and Robert Mayer, co-owners of the Waterfront Hilton.
The Newport Beach developers unveiled ambitious plans for the coastline parcel in the late 1980s, including plans to construct three additional hotels, a retail complex and condominiums. But funding dried up during the recession and the developers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 1993.
The developers emerged from bankruptcy late last year, and are now proposing a scaled-back project, including the Hilton time-share resort, a 300-room expansion of the Waterfront Hilton, a city-owned conference center on the site of the old Huntington Beach Inn, and condominiums running along the back of the parcel.
Bone said Hilton's reputation and ready access to capital could provide the push needed to move the development forward.
"The Hilton name brings credibility to the table as well as the financial ability to carry out the project," Bone said. "We're very excited about working with them."
Hilton Grand Vacations is based in Orlando, and operates 17 time-share projects nationwide, including its newest project, the 360-unit Grand Vacations Club at Sea World International Center in Orlando.
The proposed Hilton project would be the latest in a mini-revival of time-share construction in Orange County. The Disney Development Co. is working on a 650-unit time-share project in Newport Beach, while the Peacock Suites Hotel in Anaheim is set to be converted April 1 into that city's first-ever time-share project.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
On the Waterfront
A 12-acre parcel next to the Waterfront Hilton in Huntington Beach is the proposed site of a Hilton time-share resort. The owner hopes that the hotel, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, will benefit from increased tourism generated by the project. Details of the plan:
Number of units: 280 to 300
Features: Luxury oceanfront condos, pool, tennis courts, activity center, restaurant and lounge. Guests would also have access to Waterfront Hilton facilities.
Other Hilton time-share locations: 17 nationwide, including Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.
Developers: Waterfront Partners and Hilton Grand Vacations Co.
Before construction: The Huntington Beach Inn would be torn down and residents of a nearby mobile home park would be relocated.
Source: Waterfront Partners / Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times