Hotel developer revising plans

This rendering of the proposed Oliver Hotel at McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard is being revised after it was deemed too “plain” by the Planning Commission.

The developer hoping to build a hotel at McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard has begun work on Plan B — after designs for Plan A left the Planning Commission underwhelmed by “rather plain” architecture derided as unworthy for one of Santa Clarita’s showcase intersections.

Developer Hunter Oliver intends to return before the Planning Commission by mid-November with revised plans, said a spokesman for the builder.

“We can do better,” Planning Commission member Charles Heffernan said back on Oct. 4, when the panel postponed approving the five-story, 134-room Oliver Hotel project on the site of the old Greens miniature golf course and restaurant.

“It’s not something I would put in the center of the city,” Heffernan added.

Tim Burkhart, vice chairperson of the commission, said the design that fell so flat on Oct. 4, “strikes me as rather plain – it looks like a dormitory.’’

So the commission, by a 3-1 vote with one member absent, told Oliver to make a number of aesthetic upgrades and return for the panel’s Nov. 15 meeting.

“We’ve had conversations with the applicant and given them directions,” said associate city planner David Peterson.

He said the suggested tweaks include:

* Greater variation in the heights of the roofline.

* More variation of building’s sand- and brick-toned color pattern.

* More details and embellishments on the ground floor and entry areas.

* Adding flourishes to window perimeters.

“It’s to add interest to the building,” Peterson said.

Oliver did not return a call from The Signal on Friday, but his attorney, Hunt C. Braly, confirmed the developer intends to return before the Planning Commission on Nov. 15 with revised plans.

“The city staff has outlined what they think needs to be done based on the Planning Commission meeting, and we’re working on that,” said Braly.

Braly had expressed frustration to the Commission at the Oct. 4 meeting — pointing out that the design the commissioners saw that night had already been spruced up according to recommendations from city planning staff and the city’s design consultant.

That should have been enough for approval, he said.

“We followed the process, we went back a number of times and came up with a plan we were told was acceptable, but the Planning Commission has the authority to ask more,” Braly said Friday.

“Now we’re going back to see what we can do.”

What will not change are most of the project’s larger parameters – the commission was OK with those, suggesting only the aesthetic fixes.

However it winds up looking, the hotel will be five stories and 60 feet tall at its highest point, with 134 rooms. There would also be a separate restaurant and a parking lot that includes 220 spaces.

The Oliver proposal is a scaled-down version a proposal first pitched by Sheraton in 2008 – a project that met with significant opposition from nearby residents.

That proposal — for a seven-story, 200-room hotel — was approved by the Planning Commission in 2009, but the approval was appealed to the City Council, which asked Sheraton to conduct further public outreach. Sheraton never responded to that request, and the project languished and eventually died.

Oliver bought the property this year and pursued the smaller project that’s now being debated.

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