Hermosa Beach released a draft environmental impact report on Thursday, Aug. 16, for a proposed three-story, 100-room boutique hotel on Pier Plaza that’s been five years in the making.
While most of the significant impacts from the proposed Strand & Pier hotel were related to the 24 to 30 month construction phase, the only significant long term effect that’s unavoidable were the estimated 4 percent increase in vehicle trips to the city’s downtown core in particular on Sunday afternoons, according to the report.
Sticking points among the public are more likely to come in terms of aesthetics and the project’s impacts to the look and feel of downtown Hermosa Beach.
The proposed new mixed-use hotel with ground floor restaurants and retail space would eliminate beloved establishments such as the The Deck (formerly the Poop Deck), Pier Surf, Hermosa Cyclery and the former Mermaid Restaurant, a 60-year plus favorite watering hole until earlier this year, now Slater’s 50-50.
“This is a much anticipated step in the process for a project that has been discussed for quite some time in public meetings, the media and informally around town,” said Mayor Jeff Duclos. “Change is inevitable and it’s happening all around us. You have to be accommodating of change, but at the same protective of the character that makes the community what it is. This is the constant cycle we are under.”
Project developers Strand & Pier Holding Company controlled by Bolour Associates, which purchased the surrounding properties in 2013 for $19.5 million, are also requesting to take over a portion of the public right-of-way along Beach Drive and 13th Court. The project footprint would stretch from the Strand east to encompass four retail stalls and an apartment building on Pier Plaza.
Adam Eisenberg, vice president of acquisitions for the developer, said the company would create a pathway through the property in place of the current right-of-way that people could access.
“We’re really excited that the document has been released,” Eisenberg said. “We’re looking forward to engaging the community to answer any questions they have and hopefully we can all work together to get this project approved as soon as possible.”
In order to preserve views of the ocean over the former Mermaid Restaurant parking lot, authors of the report suggest redesigning the structure to remove the southwest corner of the building that would result in the loss of four hotel rooms and restaurant space.
Impacts during construction, including the loss of 56 and 120 public parking spaces, could be mitigated by providing a downtown shuttle, for instance, according to the report. Mitigation measures for impacts to noise and air quality were also suggested.
The roughly 1,000 page report even details how the developer should preserve and collect archaeological remains including fossils that might be found on the site. It also suggests the developer be required to include a mural and construct at least five new volleyball courts.
The total project measures 155,030 square feet of gross floor area, including the 3-story hotel 30 feet tall with a two-level subterranean basement and 178 on-site parking spaces.
The 60-day public comment period on the draft EIR begins Aug. 16 and runs through Oct. 15. Comments can be sent by email to HotelEIR @HermosaBch.org. The full draft EIR can be viewed at HermosaBch.org.
The city is planning to hold a public meeting on the report for the proposed project during the public comment period. Details of that meeting will be announced soon, according to city officials.