Palo Alto's newest hotel will soon overlook the city's pristine Baylands after the City Council quickly and enthusiastically gave the project a green light Monday night.
The council voted 8-0, with Karen Holman recusing, to approve a proposed four-story hotel and restaurant for the site of Ming's Chinese Cuisine & Bar at 1700 Embarcadero Road, near East Bayshore Road. Ming's would be demolished and rebuilt as part of the project.
The project spells good news for the cash-strapped city, which is facing an $8.3 million budget gap in fiscal year 2011. Hotel taxes, which are one of the city's few revenue streams, plummeted by more than 10 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
"This, frankly, is exactly the kind of thing that we need to encourage," Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa said Monday. "It's not only a great project, but it helps to generate revenue for our city."
Once built, the hotel will bring in between $570,000 and $697,000 annually in various taxes, most notably the hotel tax. The city will also receive about $2.2 million in one-time "impact fees."
The 147-room hotel is one of three new hotels currently in the city's pipeline. In December, the council approved a new hotel for the site of Palo Alto Bowl on El Camino Real. A smaller, 40-room "concierge wing" has been proposed for just south of the Westin Hotel in downtown Palo Alto.
Mayor Pat Burt attributed the new projects largely to the zoning incentives the city adopted to encourage hotel construction. In 2006, the city changed its zoning ordinance to allow greater density at properties zoned service commercial (CS). On Monday night, the council agreed to rezone the Ming's site from planned community (PC) to CS to enable the new hotel.
"It's important how we used zoning incentives and our marketing program through our visitors' bureau to help assist the development of hotels in Palo Alto," Burt said.
The Baylands hotel received no opposition from the public and had previously earned unanimous approval from the city's Planning and Transportation Commission and Architectural Review Board. The council was similarly enthusiastic, though Councilman Yiaway Yeh had one small complaint.
"The only downside is we won't have access to Ming's food for a certain period of time," Yeh said.