The owners of the Santa Anita Inn property on Huntington Drive who are planning to build two Marriott brand hotels and a condo tower next year the property are asking the City of Arcadia for some breaks on otherwise required hotel taxes and other fees.
They also introduced the name of the development as Seabiscuit Pacifica, which has raised the eyebrows of some members of the horse racing community as to the legality of the use of the name Seabiscuit.
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Andrew Chang and his son and associates made a second presentation this week to the City Council in an open special session prior to the regularly-scheduled study session, during which they presented a handful of flashy new computer-generated images of the proposed six-story Residence Inn and four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites at a cost of $80 million, and later an eight-story, 50-unit condominium component at a cost of another $40 million. Chang projected that the project 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. He said he would also donate 5% of revenue to local charities. Therefore, he asked the Council to waive the standard hotel tax and and grant other concessions in order for him to be able to afford to build the hotels and meet stringent owner/manager requirements of Marriott Hotels.
City officials expressed skepticism about some of Chang’s numbers, noting that while many local hotels enjoy unusually high occupancy rates now, the addition of two large new hotels would surely dilute that rate for the current hotels and drag that rate down for the new hotels as well. Mayor Mickey Segal challenged the concept of selling $1 million condos as an investment to owners who would then lease them out to horse racing tenants for portions of the year. Segal said that there is no logical financial incentive for such an investment.
Due to the brief session, no decision was made, but Councilman Bob Harbicht, who said he would really like to see the hotels be built, noted that he was not inclined to provide special breaks unique to the developers to make it happen.
The project would add 110 rooms (a total of 210) where there are now 100 rooms at the Santa Anita Inn. The two hotels would be be built on the western-most end of the property where the two most secluded two-level wings of Santa Anita Inn now sit. The primary eastern end of Santa Anita Inn would remain until and if the condo tower were to be built.