News Column

Coast Inn gets new architect

July 11, 2014

By Bryce Alderton, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.

July 11--Plans for renovating a fabled Laguna hotel are moving along, albeit with a different architect.

Chris Dornin, chief executive of the Dornin Investment Group, a real estate investment firm that acquired the property late last year, confirmed Tuesday that Horst Noppenberger is no longer the lead architect on the project. The hotel, at 1401 S. Coast Hwy., was built in the 1920s and housed the famed Boom Boom Room, a popular gay nightclub in the '80s.

Dornin said he and Noppenberger parted ways six weeks ago.

"We came to the conclusion we can't work together," Dornin said. "There's no bad blood. We decided to go in a different direction."

In an email, Noppenberger said the decision to split up was mutual and based on "an incompatible working relationship."

Noppenberger and Dornin had teamed with sculptor Louis Longi on the hotly contested 30-unit artist live-work project for Laguna Canyon, which has been appealed to the California Coastal Commission. In April, the Laguna Beach City Council, by a 3-2 vote, denied an appeal of the artist live-work project and upheld the Planning Commission's 3-2 approval of the facility.

"In retrospect, I understand that this unfortunate situation [parting ways on the Coast Inn renovation] may have arisen out of the tremendous amount of stress involved in seeing the Longi project through to an approval," Noppenberger said. "Therefore, I wish DIG [Dornin Investment Group] and Louis Longi the best for their projects."

Doug Walton, with whom Dornin has worked in the past, is the new architect for the Coast Inn project.

Dornin, a Laguna Beach resident, and his team purchased the property for $11 million in December. The hotel includes 24 rooms and a 6,274-square-foot bar and restaurant area.

"The intent is to maintain the existing mass and scale of the Coast Inn, as well as its use and spatial configuration, while upgrading both the interior and exterior," Dornin wrote in a follow-up email.

The total bar and restaurant area will increase to 7,095 square feet and be spread among multiple levels.

Three lower-level rooms will be relocated to the fourth floor to make way for a bar with ocean views, and a 2,259-square-foot rooftop deck and bar will be created, Dornin said. The rooftop deck's square footage is included in the hotel's total bar and restaurant area.

Coast Liquor, a convenience store adjacent to the property, will also be upgraded to include pre-packaged takeout sandwiches and sidewalk seating, Dornin said.

The goal is to make the hotel "more functional" while maintaining its historic character, Dornin said.

Design plans are being finalized to comply with city code, and Dornin is working with a historical consultant. The project is expected to cost $5 million, he said.

Room rates have not been determined, but Dornin said they are likely to be comparable to other small boutique hotels with limited amenities. Visitors currently rent rooms by the month, Dornin said.

The Boom Boom Room closed in 2007, and at one point, the former developer wanted to morph the facility into a 10-room boutique hotel with a 13-space parking structure.

Dornin hopes the city will schedule a Planning Commission public hearing on the project in September.


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Source: Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot (CA)

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