The owners of the planned new multi-story hotels and condominium tower on the property of the current Santa Anita Inn property on Huntington Drive told Arcadia’s Best that they have no plans to name either of the hotels nor the overall complex Seabiscuit Pacifica even though that is the name suddenly adorning most of the materials they have been been presenting in proposals to City staff and the City Council.
Continental Assets Management LLC Project Manager Andrew Chang Jr. and Acquisitions Manager Marshall Rice said last week that although they have legal clearance to use call their project Seabiscuit Pacifica, it is only a temporary name that will not be attached to the final branding of the hotels. There have been some raised eyebrows by staff at Santa Anita Race Track since the name Seabiscuit surfaced, and some readers of ArcadiasBest.com have voiced their displeaure. The name Seabiscuit will not be used officially in any way, Chang Jr. and Rice assured, noting that the hotel names will simply carry the corporate and popularly known Marriott brands of Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn & Suites.
CAM, which has owned Santa Anita Inn since the 1990s, hopes to get City approval of the $120 million 210-room project at a scheduled meeting at the Planning Commission next month, followed by approval by the City Council. Actually, the plan is to initially focus on the first $80 million phase involving the proposed six-story Residence Inn and four-story Fairfield Inn on the western half of the Santa Anita Inn property at a cost of $80 million, and later an eight-story, 50-unit condominium component at a cost of another $40 million. It is hoped that the first phase of the project can break ground next year. The primary eastern end of Santa Anita Inn would remain until and if the condo tower were to be built.
CAM went to the City Council last month asking for some tax breaks and financial assistance from the City in order to help the developer cover enormous costs during the early years of the project. In return, they project that the development will generate an average of $1 million per year in tax revenue to the City over 40 years, and generate a 75% occupancy rate after three years. After the tax break concept received a luke-cool response from Council members, and after unsupportive comments on the story by readers of ArcadiasBest.com, Rice and Chang Junior wanted to make it clear that what they are asking for is not unprecedented. They met again recently with the City Council to note that the City has offered such tax breaks in the past and recently to Rusnak Mercedes for its expansion and some years ago to the developer of the two hotels on Second Avenue north of Huntington Drive, the Hilton Garden Inn and the Marriott Springhill Suites.
But both of those projects received financial assistance from monies the city received from the State’s Redevelopment Agency, which no longer exists.
While Rice and Chang Jr. are aware of the unavailability of those RDA funds, they point out that wherever the money came from, it was clearly imperative that financial assistance of some kind is important, if not imperative, in order for developments of this magnitude to succeed.
— By Scott Hettrick