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Room At the Inn

Simi Valley’s fledgling efforts to expand its tourism base are getting a boost with a 103-room Hampton Inn – replete with a bell tower encouraged by the city to attract freeway attention. The $20 million hotel, aimed at budget-minded business and leisure travelers, will be located at 2585 Cochran St. on a vacant lot behind the Junkyard Café, a popular local restaurant. The developer is Jassas Capital LLC., a five-year-old commercial real estate company in Encino that has built hotels in Florida, Texas and California. Its franchises include a Sheraton Four Points, a Holiday Inn and two Best Westerns, and it is developing another Hampton Inn in Pomona. “Simi Valley is losing tourists right now because of the lack of available hospitality,” said Rodney Singh, the project manager for Jassas. “So by putting this hotel here, I think the city will be able to retain more of its tourists spending additional dollars in the retail sector in dining and entertainment.” Like other cities in the greater Valley, Simi Valley has a tourism business improvement district, but it only approved it in May. The district seeks to market to tourists and is funded by a bed tax, which is 2 percent. The Hampton Inn will only be the seventh hotel in the district, which began a marketing campaign in July with an expected annual budget of $230,000. The efforts largely revolve around Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library & Museum and the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. Other hotels in the district include Grand Vista Hotel, Courtyard by Marriot and Holiday Inn Express. Caroline Gibson, executive director of the Simi Valley Chamber Tourism Alliance, which is operating the tourism district, said the city also hopes to attract tourists who are visiting attractions throughout greater Los Angeles. “We’re a beautiful city and it’s a great place to stay if you’re going to Six Flags (Magic Mountain) or the beach because we’re centrally located,” she said. Coming soon Jassas purchased the 1.6-acre lot for the project in 2012 from Far East National Bank, a Chinese bank in downtown Los Angeles that had foreclosed on the property, which has had a tortured history. The property was originally zoned for an office building that received approval, but then the land changed hands and the new owner received approval for an assisted living facility that never got off the ground. Currently, the land is vacant. The Hampton Inn was approved by the city in December and is receiving EB-5 funding, a federal program that allows immigrant investors to provide capital for development projects in exchange for a visa. Construction is expected to be completed 18 months after approvals are secured. “We had a business model that we wanted to build a certain amount of hotels and we liked the location,” said Daniel Singh, 47, principal of Jassas and no relation to Rodney Singh. “There was no Hampton product in Simi Valley so we decided this was a good location.” The original architectural design was fairly simple, not surprising given that the chain, a unit of Hilton Worldwide in New York, is a limited-service hotel with rates as low as $119 a night within the Los Angeles area. There are more than 1,800 hotels worldwide, with most in the United States. But the city wanted a bit more, so the hotel will feature a 53-foot entrance tower at the front and a 58-foot bell tower. The bell tower will include columns and wrought iron decorative features that can be viewed from the freeway. “(We) worked with them to add some architectural style to the community,” said Brain Gabler, city economic development director. “The hotel will be visible from the freeway so the bell tower will be a way to help people find it from the 118 freeway.” The hotel will include 106 parking spaces, including 91 spaces in an underground parking structure. The city and developer agreed that the project would not impact the street system or any nearby intersections according to city standards. Hotel amenities will include an outdoor pool, indoor gym, a conference room and a small pantry kitchen for continental breakfasts. “We feel that Simi Valley is a striving market and there is an opportunity for a new branded hotel that would be an asset to the community,” said Singh, the project manager.

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