Planners OK renovations for Ojai landmarks
By Jesse Phelps
The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
and The Oaks at Ojai, two landmark hotels and fitness centers
of the valley, will undergo some beautifications of their own
in the coming months, per the decisions of Ojai planners at their
regular meeting Wednesday night.
Representatives for the inn presented plans detailing architectural
and landscaping ideas for several functional buildings that,
though part of the massive structural overhaul of the establishment,
won't be a part of the guest's experience.
Meanwhile, architect David Bury came before the commission to
introduce plans he drew up at the request of Oaks owners Don
and Sheila Cluff to overhaul their landmark building, retrofitting
it for earthquake safety and evoking the character of the original
Commissioner Craig Brown was the lone dissenter as the commission
voted 5-1 (Tucker Adams was absent) to allow Bury to go forward
with his renovations.
Brown was concerned because "eyebrow"-like window shades
previously discussed for the south-facing façade of the
building were not included as part of the presented plans.
Cluff backed up Bury's preference for leaving the shades off.
"Our opinion is that it became overwhelming," he said.
"It was our opinion that it looked cleaner and simpler without."
Brown, however, was adamant that without the ability to view
plans with eyebrows, he couldn't vote yes. "There are two
more important buildings in the downtown," said Brown. "The
post office and the pergola and the arcade."
The remodel, as approved, will include the removal of the current
window surrounds, a covered patio area on the east end of building
and the extensive post and beam balcony system on the southern
second floor, which faces Ojai Avenue. Bury said all these elements
were added sometime after the original construction, without
a lot of respect to the historical significance of the building.
Also due for surgery is the porte cochere (carport) in the driveway.
Bury said it would be remodeled to harmonize as much as possible
with the mission revival style of the building. The new carport
will include a series of arches and the name of the establishment
in inset lettering on the upper facing.
The exterior plaster will be removed from the building entirely,
said Bury, and plywood sheathing will be added to reinforce the
building in the event of seismic activity.
A pergola element will also be added and interior cosmetic improvement
is in the works. In addition, a row of small balconies along
the south side on the second floor will replace the current,
A covered handicap ramp will exist along the front of the building
and a wall along the southern property line will be restored,
in accordance with wishes of Historic Preservation Committee,
shielding, conveniently, the parking lot. The wall, Bury said,
will match the wall in front of the museum just down the block,
except for height.
Other minor improvements are included in the plans and Bury said
the process may evolve some as they begin to tear out the non-desirable
"Every time we get into this building, we find new things,"
he said. "As we strip this building down, we'll learn a
The project aims not to restore the original building but to
match the style as closely as possible. Said Bury, "We're
restoring the character of the building. We're going to evoke
the original structure. We're not being limited by what was there
before but we're inspired by it."
At the inn, meanwhile, previous plans were scrapped and new ones
implemented for some functional structures, necessitating a new
environmental impact restudy. The metal-frame and concrete-block
buildings will be shielded from public view by trees and serve
as maintenance and storage facilities.
"It's not a facility that's going to be visible from Highway
33 or anyplace unless you have permission to enter the site,"
said senior architect Bill Mahan. "It's a little enclave
of functional buildings that serve the Inn. They will all be
compatible with one another."
Engineers and traffic impact personnel agreed that the new plans
reduce environmental impacts and the commission voted unanimously
to approve the new layout.
The Ojai Valley News
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