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SANTA BARBARA, CA-The Santa Barbara County Supervisors have voted to uphold the Montecito Planning Commission’s approval of Caruso Affiliated’s plan for a new luxury hotel at the site of the former Miramar Hotel in Montecito. The 4-1 vote by the supervisors is the latest in a string of approvals that developer Rick Caruso’s LA-based company has garnered—despite opposition along the way—in seeking to build a 192-room hotel on the 16-acre oceanfront site of the former Miramar Hotel.

The vote by the supervisors denied appeals filed by two parties and upheld an Oct. 8 decision by the Montecito Planning Commission to approve the Caruso plan. The new Miramar will feature three restaurants, a spa, a beach club, ballroom facilities and a boardwalk along Miramar Beach. It will redevelop a property that has been considered an eyesore since not long after the Miramar was shuttered in 2000.

Caruso, the CEO of Caruso Affiliated, prevailed with the Montecito Planning Commission after four hearings on and many modifications to the Miramar project. His firm now has the necessary approvals to begin work at the Miramar, where Caruso expects to begin work in early 2009, with opening scheduled for 2011.

Caruso’s plan has received widespread support including the endorsement of all local homeowners associations, including the Montecito Association, following years of community debate over proposals from previous owners of the property. Caruso Affiliated bought the hotel in January 2007 and has been working on the redevelopment plans ever since.

The Miramar is the first foray into hotels for Caruso Affiliated, which is best known for developing and operating outdoor retail properties like the Grove in Los Angeles, the Lakes at Thousand Oaks, the Promenade at Westlake, the Commons at Calabasas and the Americana at Brand in Glendale. His redevelopment of the Miramar will be the latest chapter in a history of the property that dates back to 1876 when a pioneering couple named Josiah and Emmeline Doulton bought an oceanfront property and eventually developed it into a series of guest cottages called Ocean View Farm.

The Doulton’s later changed the name to Miramar. In recent years, two other prospective redevelopers of the site—hotelier Ian Schrager and hotelier-toy magnate Ty Warner—acquired the site but made little progress on restoring the property.

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