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Approved Downtown Livermore Wine Country Hotel could Provide Needed Lodging for Winery Tourism

The Livermore City Council held a public hearing on January 10 regarding an updated disposition, development, and loan agreement (DDLA) with Davis-based hoteliers Presidio Companies to develop a downtown wine country hotel and accompanying structures.

The approved agreement cemented the terms of the sale of 2205 Railroad Avenue, formerly owned by the city, to Presidio at an agreed price of $71,521. The hotel plan is set to include 125-135 rooms with a bar and lounge area, meeting space, fitness center, rooftop deck, and an open courtyard and patio. The former DDLA was approved back in 2018, but citizen-submitted petitions and the 2019 Central Park initiative led to severe delays in the project moving forward. On March 2020, a special municipal election was held for voters to decide on the future of the hotel plans, designated under Ballot P. Upon the vote, Ballot P passed with two-thirds majority vote in favor of the development agreement to build the downtown hotel. The plans initially included an underground parking facility with 120 spots, but increased costs over the delay of the construction, due to the referendums and COVID-19, meant that the planned garage was no longer seen as an option by Presidio. The amended and restated DDLA included a loan of $1.9 million for the acquisition of 2080 Railroad Avenue, another city owned property formerly Valley Pool Center, to construct a surface parking structure instead. The newly approved DDLA also sets in stone a timeline for the hotel project, with the first reviews to occur in March and April of this year.

The city council recommended the completion of the proposed DDLA, as it set out a timeline compatibly with the Livermore Valley Center, and supporters of the proposal stressed that it’s a crucial step to the revitalization of Downtown Livermore. The city of Livermore has been looking to grow in both culture and reach, as seen through its recent passing of the Wine Heritage District, and this hotel can be perceived as a step in the right direction to provide Livermore’s Wine Country with some of the additional hospitality service it needs to compete with the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country regions.

While the council heard more than an hour of public comments from citizens of Livermore before voting, and nearly all the speakers were in favor of the project, there will many concerns raised about the new plans for a parking structure. While the new DDLA determined the need to purchase additional land for the structure, a concern was raised that Presidio appeared to be looking to change to an outside structure prior to the ballot measure, as it could potentially save construction costs. Another counterpoint to the parking lot had to do with its location, as it being across the street from the hotel could lead to congestion along Railroad Ave, one of the busiest downtown streets. A potential solution noted was the idea of an automated parking garage as a potential revision. A remaining concern questioned the need for Presidio as a company to even need the loan to obtain the property for the parking structure, as it is a large company in the hotel industry. Supporters of the DDLA pointed out that the loan’s three-year term with interest would be beneficial to the city of Livermore, but it was clear that the support for the new hotel was not unanimous at the meeting.

While it’s unclear as to whether the hotel will continue as planned, or require further revisions, a review of the site plan and hotel design is currently planned for March and April this year by the Planning Commission and City Council, and the official transfer of the property ownership could also occur in April. Afterwards, construction is planned to start no later than May 2024, with the plans having an opening deadline of December 2025. While the support is not unanimous, most of the voices seem to support the hotel, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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