For the second time in as many months, the Santa Clarita Planning Commission has asked developers of a proposed new hotel project for an upgrade.
Two months after the Oliver Hotel Group had to fancy up its plans before finally getting approval for a project at McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, the commissioners on Tuesday night told Excel hotels to come back in January with revised ideas for a pair of new inns on Wayne Mills Place in Valencia.
But where the commissioners’ previous return-of-serve concerned aesthetics, this time their worry was primarily over pedestrian safety, and to a lesser extent the amount of parking to be provided.
The plan on the table Tuesday night called for demolishing the 120-room Best Western on Wayne Mills Road, near Magic Mountain Parkway and Tourney Road, and replacing it with a pair of higher-end hotels totaling 290 rooms.
One of the new hotels would be a 182-room, 75-foot-tall Residence Inn/Springhill Suites, while the other would be a 108-room, 65-foot-tall Holiday Inn Express hotel. The Holiday Inning Express that now sits adjacent to the site of the new hotels would remain, but be rechristened as a Best Western.
The commissioners had no issues with any of that, nor with being willing to grant a so-called conditional use permit for the buildings to exceed the city’s limit of 35 feet in height.
But they did express concerns that the intersection of Wayne Mills and Tourney – regulated only by a pair of stop signs on east/west-running Wayne Mills – would become too dangerous, with the bigger new hotels causing increased foot traffic to nearby restaurants and other businesses.
“Pedestrian traffic (here) is a serious issue,” Commissioner Charles Heffernan said.
The commissioners suggested the developers work with the city to mitigate the safety situation at the intersection, and set a Jan. 17 date – the board’s next meeting – for revised plans.
“It’s beyond my comprehension to have to wait for someone to be injured or killed before we protect someone,” said Commissioner Diane Trautman.
Dale Donohoe, president of Intertex Companies, which Excel hotels has hired to develop the project, said his firm would work with city planners in the next month, but cautioned that putting a traffic light at the intersection could cause traffic snarls. He suggested another solution might be speed bumps.
“We will install whatever the city wants us to,” Donohoe told The Signal afterward.
On the parking issue, the proposed project called for only 274 parking spaces, not the 290 (one per room) that city law mandates.
Commissioners said they were not firm on the developers meeting that 1-to-1 ratio of rooms to parking spaces but that, in the words of Commissioner Tim Burkhart, “something better” is needed.
Bob Tuttle, architect of the project, told The Signal it was unlikely developers would come back with a plan for 290 parking spaces, but that “we’ll see how many (additional spaces) we can get.” He estimated he could add “eight or 10.”
According to plans, the Residence Inn/Springhill Suites would be built in the mission style, and would have five stories, one for parking only. The new Holiday Inn Express would be four stories, and be built in a contemporary design.