The boxy former Holiday Inn near the Third Street Promenade, however, is probably not long for this world. At the prompting of city officials, the owners have come up with a plan to raze the aging hotel and erect a three-tiered showplace that embraces the Pacific with outdoor terraces, a rooftop restaurant and sea vistas from every possible angle.
The proposed hotel and condominium development, which could cost as much as $175 million, would undo a decision made in the 1960s when Santa Monica’s seedy seaside posed a potential affront to visitors from the Midwest and other more wholesome environs, hotel executive Debra Feldman said.
The former Holiday Inn at 120 Colorado Ave. was set perpendicular to the coast with a blank wall facing the ocean because the owners of the chain catering to middle-class travelers did not want guests looking out on what the company’s chief designer saw as “the drug-infested, crime-ridden Santa Monica Pier,” Feldman said.
“An architect from Springfield, Mo., was making a calculated choice,” she said. “Unfortunately he forgot that in addition to the pier there was the magnificent Pacific Ocean.”
In a reflection of how far Santa Monica has come since the 1960s, the pier is now the city’s signature tourist attraction, where well-kept shops and a bright amusement park have replaced the sleazy waterfront bars and broken-down storefronts of an earlier era.