Q: “How many hotels are there in Healdsburg? How many are projected for the future?”
— Jeane Slone, Healdsburg
A: The Tribune talked with the city of Healdsburg planning department and with City Manager David Mickaelian and we found out that there are currently 17 hotels in Healdsburg with a total of 548 hotel rooms.
As for bed and breakfasts, there are currently 13 in the city, yielding a total of 82 rooms. There are also four vacation rental units with a total of seven rooms.
There is only one hotel currently under construction, the Montage on Healdsburg Avenue, which will have 130 rooms.
“I was up yesterday looking at the Montage project and they are looking to open that probably in September of next year, the project is moving along,” said Mickaelian.
Hotels approved, but not yet under construction, include the Mill District hotel as a part of the Replay project. The Mill District hotel will have 53 rooms.
“We know that Replay has been approved so we’re looking at looking at their design review sometime in the fall. My guess is they are going to want to start building by next spring/summer,” Mickaelian noted. “As far as the other projects, Comstock with the North Entry (Area) Plan allows for up to a 130 room hotel … I don’t know if they’ve actually submitted their project yet, but I think they’re proposing somewhere between a 100 and 130-room hotel and a bunch of affordable housing and a senior living project.”
According to Healdsburg Senior Planner Scott Duiven, there are three hotel developments that are currently under review. These include the hotel Duchamp expansion, the North Entry Area Plan (NEAP) project and the HH Residences. Duchamp could have 14 rooms, the NEAP project could have 130 and HH Residences could have 16 for a total of 160 additional rooms.
So how has hotel development policy changed over the years in Healdsburg?
“I think from a land zone/land use perspective it really hasn’t changed other than the significant changes we made last year,” Mickaelian said.
In December 2018 the city council voted 4-1 approving an ordinance that will limit the amount of hotels built in the city’s Downtown Commercial District (CD) and Plaza Retail zoning district near Piper, Vine, East and Mill Streets.
“We looked at the Commercial District and the Plaza Retail District where we basically capped hotels at the existing number and put a limit on hotel development at five per block face,” Mickaelian explained.
“For example on Healdsburg Avenue between, let’s say Matheson and the roundabout, we’ve already got two hotels there and they are already capped at that. There will be no more hotel development on that side, whereas if you’re looking at Healdsburg Avenue between North and Piper, I don’t believe there are any hotels there, so you have an opportunity to build five rooms there,” he said.
Mickaelian said the city is also working on a policy to require upcoming hotel developments to either pay a fee or build affordable housing.
For instance with Hotel Trio, a 122-room hotel, 37 affordable units were built. Replay is proposing a 53-room hotel and providing 41 affordable units.
In terms of the city council’s direction on hotel development moving forward, Mickaelian said council and city staff will likely discuss the topic as they work on the city’s strategic plan.
“We are going through the strategic planning process right now, I would assume we will be talking about that as we go through that process, but there is a lot of discussion on hotels and I think the council took a pretty hard line with regards to what they wanted to do in the downtown core,” he noted.
Residents’ view on hotels
A community survey conducted by the city in February and March showed an overwhelming consensus that residents believe hotel development is happening too fast. Forty-seven percent of residents said there are “Far too many hotels” and 71% said that hotel development was happening too quickly.
When asked on how residents’ concerns are taken into consideration, Mickaelian said it is a bit difficult since there are certain land use requirements and ordinances.
“So we don’t have the ability to say, ‘You can’t submit a project.’ If somebody submits a project we have to process it like any other project even if they’re stacked up. So that’s what’s been happening,” Mickaelian said.
He said they also tend to get more projects when the economy starts “heating up,” as he put it. “You start seeing more activity and I think that’s what we’re seeing.”
However, he added, “I don’t anticipate more projects in the near future … we don’t have any more large space for a hotel development. The only other area for development is south of the bridge, but we don’t have water or sewer there and it is all zoned for the most part, industrial … This year (for hotel development) has been unusual.
“This past year between Replay and the Comstock project, those are two very large, complex projects for this city and so to have both of those kind of happening in the same window has been very unique.”