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Nipomo could become home to its first major hotel if San Luis Obispo County officials approve plans for a proposed development facing the West Tefft Street business corridor.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, members of the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission considered a request for conditional use permit for the construction and operation of an 83-room, 38,500-square-foot Hilton hotel proposed by Rob Marinai.

After much discussion about water and signage, the commission continued the item, which now is scheduled to be heard April 26 per the developer's request. 

“A hotel has been in process for a long time on that site. It was approved by the South County Advisory Council unanimously. Generally, the feeling of people I talk to is all positive, and I talk to a lot of people in town,” said Planning Commissioner Jim Harrison.

Two similar projects at the 549 Hill St. property were approved in 2006 and 2010, but those projects were quashed by the economic downturn, Robert Winslow told commissioners. Winslow, a civil engineer with CDS, has worked on potential development of the Hill Street property since 2004.

“When you propose a project like this and the economy is great, we hope to get a tenant in that is going to take in the project. When a recession happens, sort of all bets are off the table. The interested party now is Home 2 Suites (by Hilton),” Winslow said.

Initially designed for multiple structures, the project has evolved into a single, three-story building. The plan also calls for an outdoor pool, patio and 13,000 square feet of subterranean parking. As a suite-style accommodation, its marketing would be aimed at business travelers and short-term construction project workers.

“There’s a large market share of bed tax escaping San Luis Obispo County, driving across the bridge into Santa Maria,” Winslow said.

He pointed to hotels and motels throughout San Luis Obispo County.

“You can go to any hotel here in San Luis Obispo and there are construction trucks, cellphone trucks, rail and fire department. The problem is rates are so high in Pismo, we’re looking at all that going to Santa Maria. We’re attempting to bring that back into the county,” Winslow said.

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He added the project would also “kick-start the Hill Street/West Tefft corridor we’ve been trying to get developed since 2004.”

Growth comes with its own challenges, but Harrison said there’s no fighting it.

“I like Nipomo. I’ve been up and around here since ’66. It’s growing. You can’t stop growth. If we can’t stop it, maybe we can get something that would contribute to a tax base that would bring in money to benefit the community,” Harrison said.

The hotel would not be Nipomo’s first lodging facility. Dana Adobe served as a place of hospitality in the mid-19th century. Nipomo is also home to about a dozen AirBnB rentals and The Kaleidoscope Inn, a six-room bed and breakfast whose owner doesn’t feel threatened by the addition of a major hotel.

“We see this as an opportunity for Nipomo to grow. We’re located right by Olde Towne, so we have the benefit of being next to Jocko’s and the town is getting built up. By the time the hotel comes in, we’re presuming Nipomo will be much more on the map. We’ll be the cute little place to stay amongst all that,” said owner and manager Beki Beauchamp.

“I think it’ll bring a lot more people, and maybe, eventually it would be nice if Nipomo would incorporate. Nipomo doesn’t have a large tax base, but it has the largest number of people of any unincorporated community in the county. Local control would be better than what we’ve got. This could be a step toward that,” Harrison said.

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