Adamson Hotel could be reality soon

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The project owner is moving ahead with plans to build the 146-room hotel, which would include a hotel and café for guests and non-guests.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Nearly a decade after the project received city approval, the Adamson Hotel could soon be built at the 28-acre triangular lot formed by the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Canyon Road and Civic Center Way. Project owner and Malibu resident Richard Weintraub is making his application for a coastal development permit for the 146-room facility. He said if the process goes smoothly, the hotel could be ready for guests by the spring of 2009.

The City Council approved the hotel construction in 1998 for the Adamson family, which at the time owned the property. Weintraub purchased the land the following year. The project still requires a coastal development permit because at the time the city approved it in 1998, the California Coastal Commission could only approve CDPs. The project never went before the Coastal Commission, and now the city is in charge of issuing CDPs, although their approval can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

Weintraub said in an interview this week his CDP application would be nearly identical to his city permit, although there would be some alterations. One includes his request to be able to build all 146 rooms at once. His city permit allows for him to build 106 rooms initially. And then, if it were determined by planning officials in two to five years the project did not have any significant negative impacts on the community, the additional 40 rooms could be built.

Some city officials were disturbed to learn in 2002 that Weintraub planned to make 40 rooms significantly larger than the others. He said the larger rooms would be divided into two if he received city approval for the additional 40 hotel rooms. Councilmember Ken Kearsley and then-Mayor Joan House opposed the idea as a method to get around the two-phase development approved by the City Council four years earlier. But the other three council members said the plan was fine, with Councilmember Jeff Jennings then saying, “They came up with a very clever solution …”

Weintraub’s plan calls for a hotel divided into 16 villas ranging in size up to 6,000 square feet each that will surround private courtyards. The proposed architectural style of the project is along the lines of a Southern California garden hotel with a historic Spanish Mediterranean character. Weintraub said the Hotel Bel-Air in Stone Canyon is an example of the feel he wants to achieve.

“This will be very similar, although our project will have even more landscaping because there is more land available than Hotel Bel-Air has,” Weintraub said.

The buildings will be a mix of one and two stories (maximum of 28 feet), with rooms approximately 600 square feet in size, many with bay views.

The complex will also include a spa and gym, and outdoor tennis courts. There will also be a café and restaurant, which Weintraub said would be open to nonhotel guests.

“The restaurant would be fine dining,” Weintraub said. “While the other [eatery] would be a fun coffee shop like the one they have at the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

The city permit had also called for the building of a 9,000-square-foot Chumash cultural center, a proposal originally made by the actor/environmentalist and Chumash enthusiast Eddie Albert Jr. Weintraub said the building of the facility is still in the plans, but he does not believe it will be as large as 9,000 square feet.

Weintraub said there has been a delay in the development of the hotel because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which hit the hotel industry hard. Also, he had a partner on the project who did not want to go forward with it in the same time frame he did. Weintraub bought out his partner this year, with a desire to move the process along.

He said he hopes to have his CDP application into the city by the end of the summer. The application would go before the Planning Commission, and its decision could be appealed to the City Council and later the Coastal Commission.

The approval process for the Adamson Hotel has been particularly long and arduous. The original development began in the 1970s under the county, with a proposal for a 300-room hotel. The project received county and California Coastal Commission approval, but when Malibu became a city, everything came to a halt.

The initial city permit application was filed for review in August 1994, and thereafter went through a city planning and state environmental review process. Hearings then took place before the Planning Commission and the City Council, and the project received its final city approval in March 1998.

Publisher Arnold G. York contributed to this story.