Adamson Hotel on its way

For more than 20 years, the Adamson Company has been planning to build a hotel up on a bluff on a 28-acre triangular lot created by the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Canyon Road and Civic Center Way.

To date, not a spade of earth has been turned, but that may change later this year, if things go as planned. The long-awaited, hotly debated and often controversial 146-room Adamson Hotel may actually go into construction by the end of this year.

The proposed hotel will have 146 luxury guest suites in villas surrounding private courtyards, which will be built on the 28-acre parcel. Construction will take place in two phases. In the first phase, 106 rooms will be built. In the second phase, two to five years later, according to developers’ current estimates, 40 rooms will be added. The facility will have a state-of-the-art 10,000-square-foot sunlit spa/gym, outdoor tennis courts, a lobby bar, and a fine-dining restaurant and a cafe inside. A 6,000-square-foot banquet and meeting space, a cultural center and landscaped parking are also slated for the design.

The architectural style is along the lines of a Southern California garden hotel with a historic Spanish Mediterranean character. (Developers refer to the Bel-Air Hotel in Stone Canyon as an example of the feel they want to achieve.) The buildings will be a mix of one and two stories (maximum of 28 feet), with large rooms and suites (approximately 600 to 1,000 square feet), many with bay views, all in villas with outdoor space and clustered around courtyards.

The developers estimate the city can anticipate about $2 million to $3 million in revenue per year from the resort hotel complex. The majority will come from an 11 percent occupancy tax and from the city’s share of real estate and other taxes. It is calculated that in 2003, when the hotel might come online, the average room rate for a hotel of this type would be about $440 per room, per night. A 75 percent occupancy rate is anticipated (which is a consistent if not conservative estimate, compared with hotels like Shutters in Santa Monica). Additionally, based upon hospitality industry norms, developers anticipate that hotel guests could be expected to spend $50 million to $65 million annually in the community. One reason that many cities want hotels is that the transient occupancy tax (TOT) is one of the few taxes not shared with other jurisdictions — it goes directly into city coffers. The city can also get immediate cash from the TOT if it issues bonds, using the transient tax as security for the bonds.

The city’s approval process for the project 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. After many meetings and votes, the project was finally passed in its present scaled-down form of 146 rooms, in two phases.

The initial city Conditional Use Permit (CUP) 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 Malibu Planning Commission and the Malibu City Council, and the project received its final approval on March 23, 1998, when developers received both a CUP and a certification of the project environmental impact report (EIR).

It is estimated that when completed, the 146-room resort hotel will house approximately 300 guests and have 70 to 110 employees split into three shifts — 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Conditions imposed by the General Plan and the city include: that it be a small hotel; that traffic occur during off-peak hours; that guests tend to stay on site (typically that means a high-end hotel); that it be a destination resort; that there be a hotel shuttle to beaches and golf (to minimize traffic); that there will be no outside amplified sound; and that the gardens have a mature landscape.

No exact date is yet set for breaking ground, but estimates are for this fall.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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