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La Costa Resort & Spa to reveal $50-million renovation results

Also: Trammell Crow pays $15.4 million for 20 acres along the L.A. River, and commercial real estate values stagnate in October following healthy gains since 2009.

November 07, 2011|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • The makeover at La Costa Resort & Spa over the last 18 months has included freshening 474 guest rooms, updating meeting rooms with new technology and adding new amenities to the spa. The resort also got a new swimming pool and whirlpool bath area strictly for adults that overlooks the golf course. Above, the resort's newly renovated plaza area.
The makeover at La Costa Resort & Spa over the last 18 months has included… (La Costa Resort & Spa )

La Costa Resort & Spa plans Monday to unveil the results of a $50-million makeover intended to update the family-oriented resort and make it more appealing to adults.

The Carlsbad inn competes with several newer resorts in north San Diego County and south Orange County and was due to be renovated, industry experts said.

The makeover over the last 18 months freshened 474 guest rooms, updated meeting rooms with new technology and added new amenities to the spa. The resort also got a new swimming pool and whirlpool bath area for adults that overlooks the golf course.

La Costa had a $40-million makeover in 2003, but it was time for another, said consultant Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality, who is not involved with the resort. He recommends that hotels set aside enough income to conduct serious renovations every five to eight years.

"In order to be competitive, you have to keep putting money back into a hotel," he said. "It's very important if you want to maintain your group business and meeting business that you keep the property up."

About 55% of La Costa's guests come to attend a business function, said General Manager Paul McCormick. The others are leisure travelers.

The large resort — it includes 611 rooms, suites and villas on 400 acres — has evolved over decades. Soon after it opened in 1965, ads in The Times suggested that children ride horseback while Dad golfed and Mom played tennis or relaxed by the pool. The resort still focuses on family activities, with a kids club, game lounge and water slides at the main pool to keep youngsters entertained.

"It's now a wonderful campus environment," McCormick said, but it was time to spruce up some of the adult components. The golf course was improved, he said, and a sports bar was added. "The real focus has been how do we bring sexy back to La Costa."

Other hotels are likely to follow La Costa's lead as the hotel industry gets back on its feet after rough years during and after the recession, consultant Reay said.

"There is a tremendous amount of inventory that has not been upgraded" since the economy collapsed in 2008, he said. "You are going to see a whole wave of hotels renovating over the next two or three years."

Developer buys land along L.A. River

Developer Trammell Crow Co. has agreed to buy a once-controversial site along the Los Angeles River near downtown Los Angeles with the intention of turning it into a manufacturing center for technology businesses.

Trammell Crow said it would pay $15.4 million to the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency for 20 acres of land at Santa Fe Avenue and Washington Boulevard. The deal is contingent on a decision from the state Supreme Court expected by January on budget legislation that sharply limited the agency's functions.

The Cleantech Manufacturing Center project would create 300,000 square feet of industrial and office space to house about 200 workers and would be the southern anchor of a planned technology corridor along the river, said David Bloom of the redevelopment agency.

The top 30 feet of soil at the site has been cleared of contaminants left by generations of industrial use involving train maintenance and bus manufacturing, said Brad Cox, a senior managing director at Trammell Crow. Construction could begin by the end of 2012 while further pollution abatement continued, he said.

"There are just not a lot of large parcels available in the downtown-adjacent area, and this is a chance for us to deliver a state-of-the-art product to attract clean-tech tenants," Cox said.

Earlier plans decades ago included reusing the site as a prison and a toxic waste incinerator, but neighborhood opposition thwarted those proposals.

Property values up 45% since 2009

Commercial real estate values nationwide have risen substantially since the trough of 2009 but remained flat in October, an industry analyst said.

Properties such as office buildings, warehouses, apartment complexes and malls have increased in value more than 45% from the bottom of the market in 2009, according to Newport Beach-based Green Street Advisors Inc. That means that three-quarters of the decline in values that occurred as the market went down between 2007 and 2009 has been erased.

Prices are back to where they were in late 2006, about 10% below their all-time highs.

"After enjoying a robust two-year recovery, property prices have effectively gone into a stall over the last six months," said Mike Kirby, director of research at Green Street. "Some of the factors that have been fueling the impressive recovery in values have taken a turn for the worse, including the economic outlook and capital availability."

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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