SANTA CRUZ -- A proposal to turn an 1890 mansion on Beach Hill with views of the San Lorenzo River into a 12-room boutique hotel was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission last week.

The proposal needs special use, design and coastal permits for the hotel use, a variance for lot width and a boundary adjustment to combine two lots into one, all of which will be reviewed by the Planning Commission, tentatively 7 p.m. March 21, according to senior planner Don Lauritson.

Designed by LeBaron Olive and owned by Margaret Barfield, the 3,250-square-foot, four-bedroom home at 611 Third St. is in the Stick-Eastlake style, according to historian Ross Eric Gibson.

Responding to feedback from curious city residents, property owner Dilip Patel said, "I am passionate about the restoration of this intriguing historic landmark."

He owns the Knights Inn nearby and bought 611 Third St. in November for $1 million.

"For the past 25 years, being neighbors to this fascinating building, I have maintained interest with this building's history and hope to share this with the public as soon as the restoration is complete," he added. "My family and I are thrilled to have this opportunity to reinvest in our city."

Benefits for the city, he said, include more jobs and more city revenue from room taxes.

Patel was asked to work with city staff to develop an exiting plan that meets the egress requirements of the building and fire codes and historic criteria, but he does not have to return to the Historic Commission, and the project does not have go before the City Council or Coastal Commission unless it is appealed, according to Lauritson.

To obtain variances for parking at a historic building, a project must involve rehabilitation and maintenance. Patel proposes to install new roof, replacing stained glass windows, repainting, installing a lift for wheelchairs and new fencing walking and landscaping.

City rules require 13 parking spaces for a 12-room hotel. The proposal provides 12 spaces with a tandem space for the manager.

City rules allow expansion by up to 15 percent of the square footage without providing more parking, which in this case would be 485 square feet.

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