California Beach Hotel to Get $185 Million Luxury Rebuild

Montecito, California - Rick Caruso, a Los Angeles shopping-mall developer, plans to spend about $185 million to rebuild a Southern California seaside hotel with a troubled past into a luxury getaway.

The 170-room Miramar Beach Resort and Bungalows in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, will have such amenities as a beach club, spa, restaurants and two swimming pools, said Caruso, founder of closely held developer Caruso Affiliated. The site’s former hotel, known as Miramar by the Sea, has already been razed.

Caruso bought the property in 2007 from H. Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies plush toys and owner of the Four Seasons Hotel New York. The California hotel, on about 15 acres (6 hectares), had been out of service for more than a decade as past revival efforts were stalled by local opposition to development and the property market’s crash. Former owners include hotelier Ian Schrager.

“It’s one of the most unique and irreplaceable pieces of real estate on the coast of California,” Caruso said in an interview at the Grove, his town square-style retail center in Los Angeles. “This will be an escape for visitors and locals alike.”

Caruso, who has about $1 billion in residential, retail and hospitality projects planned or under development, said he expects to choose a hotel operator and receive Santa Barbara County approval for final amendments to the Miramar project, including a surface parking lot to replace a once-planned underground garage, by the end of the year. Earlier plans also called for 200 more rooms than are now proposed.