L.A. investor buys Hotel Californian

The owner of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City has purchased another landmark inn: the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara.

Los Angeles investor and developer Michael Rosenfeld said Wednesday that a partnership he heads would redevelop the historic hotel on Santa Barbara’s waterfront. The Californian, which dates to the 1920s, has been closed for more than a decade.

Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed, but seller Mountain Funding, a North Carolina lender, had sought nearly $8 million for the hotel and two adjacent parcels, real estate broker Steve Brown said.

The four-story Californian will be almost completely demolished, but one of its original facades will be preserved and restored as part of a new 114-room luxury hotel on State Street.

“We are excited to move forward to revitalize the State Street waterfront district,” Rosenfeld said.


The 2.37-acre parcel has city approvals to build the hotel along with nine fractional vacation units and more than 20,000 square feet of shops.

The design calls for open plazas, paseos and gardens in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The hotel was completed in 1925, just before a devastating earthquake that destroyed or damaged scores of buildings.

“The Californian … was left a gaunt mass of steel girders and sunken, swaying floors,” the Los Angeles Times reported that year. “The outer walls of the Californian fell, leaving several stories exposed.”

The hotel was soon repaired and became one of Santa Barbara’s most popular inns for the next few decades.

“Over time it lost its luster,” said Brown, a founder of Radius Group Commercial Real Estate Inc. “They are going to restore that.”