Developer of the Grove says he may sell Miramar Hotel in Montecito

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Following a rebuke from the Montecito Planning Commission on Wednesday, mall developer Rick Caruso said he would consider selling 14 acres of beachfront property rather than conduct additional environmental studies on the site of his proposed luxury resort.

“I just ask let me out, let me go. Let someone else take this on,” Caruso said.

He asked the five-member commission to reject the plan outright, saying that it would be easier to sell the property if it was not encumbered with his development proposal.

After a marathon 12-hour meeting, the commission made clear that Caruso must make significant changes. His proposal calls for transforming the decaying Miramar Hotel into a five-star facility.

The commission voted 4 to 1 to require a subsequent environmental study on water issues, an action that Caruso said is the death knell for the project. Such a study would take six months and the delays would cost his company hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

What’s more, he said, the changes called for by the commission made the project economically unfeasible.

The panel asked for a smaller project more in keeping with the low-key, cottage style of the existing hotel, which has been shuttered for eight years. The panel cited concerns about building heights, setbacks and traffic, as well as whether there was enough water for the resort.

Caruso, who built the Grove near Farmers Market in Los Angeles and the recently opened Americana at Brand in Glendale, is the third owner to propose a major redevelopment of the property.