The Hotel Del Coronado’s plans to move the Oxford Hotel onto its grounds is actually the first step in a five-phase conceptual master plan completed by San Diego architectural firm Bradt Ackerman & Associates just four weeks ago. In a presentation before the Coronado City Council two weeks later, hotel manager, Scott Anderson and architect Chris Ackerman (who also heads the two-year old Coronado Historical Society and was responsible for an earlier renovation of the Hotel Del in 1979) unveiled a massive, multimillion-dollar project whose creation, Anderson says, came about almost by accident.
Originally, Anderson states, plans called for the Oxford Hotel to be relocated onto the southeast section of the hotel grounds, just off the corner of Orange Avenue and Avenida del Sol. The three-story hotel, built two years before the Hotel Del Coronado in 1886, had been purchased by the Hotel Del Coronado for the token fee of one dollar from the Coronado Historical Society in December, 1983 and the intent was to move the hotel from its location on Adella Avenue next door to the post office and convert it into 22,000 square feet of office space, a move estimated to cost $60,000. But after various studies and consultations with the architects, it was discovered that for those plans to be realized, the basement of the Oxford would have to be dug twenty feet below sea level, an extensive proposition not really warranted by the limited use that was intended for the hotel. So it was back to the drawing board for Bradt Ackerman, and what they finally came up with was an ambitious four-million-dollar project that included the demolition of the present laundry, storage, garage, maintenance, and parking facilities; the construction of a promenade deck, complete with “Oxford fountain” and lush landscaping, to bridge the Oxford with the Hotel Del property similar to the deck between the hotel and the three story tower, (built five years ago, which faces the ocean), and the construction of approximately one hundred new guest rooms directly below the promenade deck tiered from one to two stories in height. And that, says, Anderson, “Eventually led to us doing an entire master plan,” of which the Oxford project would be the most expensive and the other phases “made more financially feasible “because so much preparatory work would already be done.
According to the new plan, the actual move—and conversion into office space of the Oxford hotel is Phase I; Phase II is the construction of the promenade deck and underlying guest rooms. Sprung on the council by surprise were the other three phases: Phase III: Restorations of the old powerhouse (until the early 1900s the source of all the hotel’s electricity) into a restaurant.
Phase IV: Reopening the Hotel Del’s original entrance on Avenida del Sol, facing south toward the Silver Strand, and closing down the current main entrance on Orange Avenue. “This was the original main entrance until the early part of the century,” Anderson says, “That’s why the most ornate façade of the hotel faces south, because it was thought the only way people would ever approach the hotel would be from the Strand along Avenida del Sol.”
Phase V: Construction of a subterranean conference room and parking area directly outside the Crown Room, also in the southeastern part of the hotel grounds.
Anderson stresses that while hopes are high that all five stages of the master plan may soon be realized, he adds that it is still too early even for cost estimates, “This is only a conceptual plan, not even past the idea stage, really,” he says. Anderson adds that as of now, work cannot even begin on Phase I until the city council grants site approval, and action it is expected to take the second week in September. “Only then can we sit down and start to work on cost estimates and more detailed plans for the other four phases,” he says.