MONTECITO — Demolition of the Miramar Hotel started last month and the dilapidated buildings on the property are now gone. Caruso Affiliated, the company that owns the property have announced a press conference slated for next week to talk about upcoming milestones. During the first week of December, the Miramar property that hugs the Montecito coastline was bustling with crews demolishing run-down bungalows and former hotel buildings. But now, things are quiet and the land is cleaned up. Many neighbors are glad the blight is gone but what happens on the property next brings mixed reactions. “We live close to here and we’d love to see the hotel get rebuilt and be able to use it,” said Che Hatchet as he walked along the beach with his wife and newborn. “I’d like to hear the developers say that they just abandoned the whole project and they’re just going to leave it as it is. Like empty with nature and letting it go back to that,” said Branden Aroyan, Montecito resident. Caruso Affiliated announced they will invite the media and First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal to see the property on Wednesday now that the demolition is complete. “I look forward to seeing the demolishment actually having taken place. And two, if there’s any information about if Mr. Caruso moving forward to building the Miramar, I, like the community am eager to hear what or any plans he might have to bring that project to fruition,” said Supervisor Carbajal. Carbajal told KEY News, even he’s curious what next week’s press conference is all about. He does say that negotiations between Caruso and the county have stalled. Caruso wants a 15 year guarantee he will get the benefits of the Hotel Incentive Program. The program would rebate 70 percent of the 10 percent Transient Occupancy Tax hotels pay to the county. However, the county said they are on the hook to bring it up every budget session and get it approved annually. “Whatever happens to it, you know even if they knock it all down and make it a field, it’s fine. I don’t have any allegiance to nostalgia,” said Montecito resident Jacques McKaba. Neighbors will have to wait and see just like everyone else if the Miramar will ever return to its former glory. If no agreement between the county and Caruso comes about, the developer can start construction without the Hotel Incentive Program in place. That most likely won’t happen since Rick Caruso himself pushed for the rebate at the Board of Supervisors meeting in 2012.
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