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St. Helena seeks input on Farmstead hotel proposal

St. Helena seeks input on Farmstead hotel proposal

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Ted Hall of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch says his hotel project would generate more than $2 million a year in city revenue and funnel scores of customers to businesses in downtown St. Helena.

In describing his family’s 65-room project, Hall doesn’t even use the word “hotel.” He says it would merely add a lodging component to the existing Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch property, using existing infrastructure like food service, administration, marketing and maintenance.

“While we will need to add some employees, the number of employees won’t be anything like a standalone hotel,” Hall said. “The bang for the city is really large relative to any impact.”

The project could come before the Planning Commission as soon as August. Then the City Council will hold a hearing on the development agreement, which is still being negotiated and will spell out details such as the project’s contribution to affordable housing.

If approved, the hotel could open in late 2022, Hall said. The rooms would have an average daily rate of $967.

The lodging would be built on commercial-zoned land southeast of Farmstead, behind David Gold’s veterinary hospital. Visitors would access the hotel from Mills Lane, which would be realigned with the signal at Highway 29 and Grayson Avenue, creating a four-way intersection with a new railroad crossing.

A walking path would connect the restaurant property with the hotel and an agricultural area with vegetable fields and fruit orchards.

“We’re emphasizing agriculture, not red painted toenails,” Hall said.

The 65 guest rooms would be spread among 10 single-story buildings. Each room would come with two bicycles. A bike path would encourage guests to walk or ride downtown. Hall said the site is less than a 10-minute walk from the corner of Main and Hunt.

“It will really be a boon to the downtown area,” Hall said.

Other hotel amenities would include a multi-purpose building, pool, spa and utility building. The new buildings, including the hotel rooms, would total 53,200 square feet.

In addition to the lodging, Hall is also proposing some changes at the current Farmstead property.

The application seeks to move the restaurant’s baking operation from the restaurant to the Logan-Ives house, enclose the existing farmers’ market building and use it for butchery, add more dry storage at the restaurant, and build a sound wall at the outdoor bar.

If approved, Farmstead’s new use permit would allow up to four events per week with up to 200 people and up to six events per year with up to 300 people.

Hall said the project would be rooted in the same principles of sustainability and farm-to-table agriculture that guide the rest of Long Meadow Ranch’s operations. The construction will incorporate water conservation measures, solar power, and non-glycol cooling systems, he said.

“We’ll continue to walk the talk as we have from the beginning,” he said.

According to the project’s environmental reports, the hotel will have 65 employees, with a maximum of 47 on-site at a time.

The site plan doesn’t include any housing, but Hall said his family will provide “substantial funds above our required housing impact fees.” He said the details are in the final stage of negotiations between the applicants and the city.

“I’m committed to finding a way to help something actually happen, as opposed to people just continuing to study this issue,” he said. “We need to build some units.”

The city is accepting comments on the project’s environmental document through Monday, June 29. Details are available on the Planning Department page on the city’s website, cityofsthelena.org.

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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