Exchange of city-owned property for historic River Lodge property approved
–The Paso Robles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a property exchange between a city-owned property and the River Lodge Motel property at 1955 Theatre Drive. The city owns approximately four acres fronting Theatre Drive and Highway 46. The exchange will preserve the River Lodge Motel and its historic value to the community. The River Lodge property is currently owned by Zenique Hotels based in Burlingame, CA.
The original proposed Hyatt Place Project included plans to demolish the River Lodge to make room for an 116-room Hyatt hotel. The proposed development was opposed by letters to the city from the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society, the Paso Robles Main Street Association.
The motel, originally known as the Suburban Motel, represents an era of motel construction in the United States known as “Googie Architecture” or “Post World War II Roadside Lodging.” The architecture style was popular for roadside motels between 1940 and 1960 when car trips were favored family vacations. The River Lodge has maintained almost all of the original components of the original architecture and is one of around 18 motels still in Paso Robles from the same era.
The City Council directed that land appraisals to reaffirm the property values of both parcels be obtained within the next 90 days. The exchange agreement starts a process that includes establishing a development agreement that is subject to public review and future action by the city council and the standard protocols for project review including California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis for a new Hyatt Plaza hotel on the three-acre site.
Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson said that the city having control of the site provides, “the opportunity to conduct community meetings to determine an appropriate future for the site.”