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Commission Allows Use of Site Intended for Medical Office Building for Hotel Construction

Published on Thursday, October 28, 2021 | 5:36 am

The Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that will allow for the construction of a six-story hotel within the Pasadena Playhouse District along E. Colorado Boulevard, at a site originally intended for a medical office building.

The CUP issued in July 2013 for the site, located at 550-566 E. Colorado Boulevard, was for the construction of the Crown City Medical Center.

The applicant has submitted applications to modify the CUP for the project so it would be used as a site for a proposed 109,231 square foot, 85-foot tall hotel with 195 guest rooms, 6,000 square feet of dining and bar area, 1,050 square feet of meeting rooms, 2,840 square foot roof terrace, and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.

During its meeting, the Commission has also approved CUPs to allow the reduced parking and the sale of alcohol within the proposed project.

The project involves the construction of 102 total parking spaces with as many as 16 on site and no less than 86 off-site spaces. The approved parking space intended for the proposed medical facility provided 402 spaces for vehicles.

During the meeting, commissioners expressed their concerns about the reduction of parking spaces for the facility. Richard McDonald, who represented applicant Welcome Pasadena LLC, said they applied for reduced parking because based on their studies, hotels do not use the majority of their parking space allocations.

“People do come by Uber or taxi. It’s very very rare that you have a hotel that uses the majority of its parking,” McDonald said. “There really isn’t a need for over 200 spaces.”

“We’re very excited about this hotel being willing to go forward despite the difficult environment for the hospitality industry at this point,” McDonald said.

The commissioners have expressed their support for the transition of the site’s use from a medical office building to a hotel, saying the project fits the Playhouse District.

“I actually think that the use here is a lot more exciting and a lot more energizing than a medical office building so I do applaud the applicant for bringing us something that fits into our Playhouse Village very nicely, and helps activate pedestrian traffic,” Commissioner Andrea Rawlings said.

“There is clearly a lot of support in the surrounding neighborhood for this use,” Commissioner Jason Lyon said. “I tend to agree with my fellow commissioners that this is a much better and more vibrant use for the area, probably a better fit than a medical office building.”

“I do think this is a more appropriate use for the area,” Commissioner Julianna Delgado said.

Meanwhile, while Commissioner Mic Hansen lauded the project, she remarked that more should be done to make it more compatible with the surrounding areas: “The project may be a good project for the Playhouse Village area but there is still a lot of thought and studies that need to go into it to make it  more compatible with where it is.”

Under the Zoning Code, the Central District Specific Plan “is intended to provide for a vibrant mixed-use environment that encompasses cultural and arts activities, centered on Colorado Boulevard and the Pasadena Playhouse.”

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