Santa Monica Lookout
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Miramar Won't Back Down in Santa Monica's Ongoing Hotel War

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 23, 2013 -- Santa Monica's Miramar Hotel won't retract statements or take down a website that call the neighboring Huntley's owner a greedy Beverly Hills millionaire who is stiffing the City of much-needed tax revenue, according to a letter sent by Miramar lawyers Monday.

The letter comes less than a week after lawyers representing the Huntley Hotel -- a vocal opponent of the Miramar's ambitious $255 million plan to remodel its 86-year-old campus - - threatened legal action if the Miramar didn't retract statements made in two flyers and take down a website that level attacks against Huntley owner Sohrab Sassounian. (“Santa Monica's Huntley Hotel Demands Retraction of 'Outrageous' Flyers,” July 17)

Miramar’s glossy, four-page, color flyers -- delivered to Santa Monica doorsteps on foot – accuse Sassounian of spending millions to manipulate local neighborhood groups in an effort to stymie competition.

Monday’s letter reiterates the right of Ocean Avenue LLC -- the corporation which owns the landmark Miramar Hotel -- to fire back at the Huntley’s attacks that began almost immediately after the Miramar submitted its redevelopment plans two years ago.

The letter stated that the Miramar plans to defend itself against “allegations contained in Huntley-disseminated materials” and warns that any lawsuit brought against the Miramar by the Huntley would by dismissed under the State's anti-frivolous lawsuit legislation.

With the letter, lawyers included copies of several flyers distributed by Save Santa Monica, a group set up by Huntley political consultant Sue Burnside to oppose the Miramar's plan in an ongoing cold war between the two hotels that has raged for two years.

The plan includes demolishing two old buildings and replacing them with three new ones, including a 21-story tower with as many as 120 condos.

One of Save Santa Monica's flyers includes an artist rendering of an earlier version of the proposed Miramar project atop a meteorite plummeting to earth just moments before it crashes into Santa Monica.

“Miramarmageddon: stop the Fairmont Miramar expansion before it destroys Santa Monica,” the flyer reads.

“New York-based developers want to demolish the historic Miramar Hotel and replace it with a huge Las Vegas style hotel-condo-retail complex,” the flyer continues on the other side.

The five-page letter from the Miramar's lawyers cites the “Miramarmageddon” flyer as just one example of “inflammatory” materials circulated by the Huntley in which many of the claims made were false.

“As extreme as the Huntley flyers were, Ocean Avenue never challenged the Huntley's right to circulate them,” the letter reads. “But Ocean Avenue had every right to defend itself and respond, particularly to correct the public record.”

The letter adds that, despite the Huntely's claims, there was on intention to intimidate Sassounian or other representatives of the Huntley.

Most of the letter is spent countering claims made by the Huntley and its representatives, including the belief that the project would create more traffic, destroy a “tranquil” residential neighborhood and deprive the City of millions in tax revenue.

The Miramar's lawyers also chided the Huntley for not disclosing its involvement in the flyers.

“The Huntley did not take responsibility for either of them,” the letter reads. “In contrast, the two response flyers circulated by Ocean Avenue were both clearly and conspicuously identified as having been paid for and authorized by Ocean Avenue.”

Miramar lawyers signed off on a positive note, however.

“We look forward to a constructive dialogue between the Huntley and Ocean Avenue in the future,” the letter says.

As of press time, Huntley representatives had not yet responded to the Miramar's letter.

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