May 17, 2005

Coral Casino Clears the Final Hurdle!


The Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Commission on Monday approved Ty Warner's $35 million proposal to renovate the Coral Casino beach club, including the contested second-story restaurant and rooftop sun deck.

However, plans for the renovation already are on appeal to the county Board of Supervisors. Opponents appealed the Montecito Planning Commission's approval earlier this month. A June 21 hearing date has been tentatively set.

While the renovation issue has been simmering for more than five years, the landmarks commission took on the case about 2 years ago. After 35 hours in hearings, the commission voted 6-2 in favor of the project. One member, Randy Melcombe, abstained, mainly because of concerns about the loss of 10 cabanas to make way for the new restaurant.

Voting yes were commissioners Audrey Mussell, James Lowsley, Sue Adams, Barbara Chen Lowenthal, David Stone and Eileen Wyckoff. Mary Bagne and John Woodward voted no.

Because the Coral Casino, built in 1937, is a county landmark, both the planning commission and landmarks commission must sign off on the plans.

The approval came with various conditions, such as requiring Mr. Warner to store cabinets from the cabanas, instead of throwing them away, once they are removed. The commission also asked that he look for ways to reuse hardware, such as door knobs, from the cabanas elsewhere in the remodel.

Several of the commissioners said they were swayed to allow for the rooftop sun deck after viewing a mock-up of the glass railing proposed for along the deck. The railing, a high-tech, nonreflective glass, is not visible from the Channel Drive side of the building and barely visible from the beach.

In making the point that the second-story restaurant is appropriate and should be allowed, Ms. Chen Lowenthal described the various tenets of the streamline, moderne architectural style used by Coral Casino architect Gardner Dailey, well-known in the Bay Area.

Posted by gandlwoods at May 17, 2005 08:57 AM