CARLSBAD — City Council cleared the way for a new hotel to be built on the property of the 128-acre Legoland California family theme park.
The Carlsbad Ranch Specific Plan amendment for the newly proposed 250-room Legoland Hotel California was unanimously approved by council March 10.
Peter Ronchetti, the park’s new general manager, told the council that Legoland is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and has expanded to include several new attractions and the new Sea Life Aquarium.
“The hotel would be a welcomed addition to the Legoland experience, resulting in further growth,” Ronchetti said.
Ronchetti said one other Legoland hotel has been built in Denmark and is doing well.
Legoland Hotel California could take up to 10 years to build, he said.
“While the opening of this hotel is not in the immediate future, we are looking forward to this new chapter in our development as we bring the Legoland experience to the next level for our guests,” Ronchetti said. “This (hotel) will be an extension of that experience and would work very well.”
The council also approved the Local Coastal Zone amendment needed to make way for the hotel, and will need final approval from the Coastal Commission.
The council also discussed the reduction in parking spaces that will result from the hotel being built on the parking lot.
The lot now provides storage for vehicles from neighboring Car Country Carlsbad.
Many of the council members pointed out that Legoland has been an asset to the community.
“Be proud of your park,” Councilman Keith Blackburn told Ronchetti. “It has been a great neighbor in our community.”
One of the ways Legoland benefits the community is by providing jobs, Mayor Bud Lewis said.
At the March 10 meeting, many former employees from a local builder showed up to ask City Council to do whatever possible to create new jobs.
“How our industry goes, so goes the economy,” said Bob Cummings, from Carlsbad-based company Barrett American. “If you bring jobs back, (the economy) will certainly come back.”
Cummings said the “once-proud company,” which had 160 employees last year, now has less than 20 full-time employees.
The group of former employers from Barrett American held signs with their job positions, urging City Council to think about the faces behind the lost jobs.
Council members pointed out that the new jobs that will be created by the Legoland Hotel California are just one example of the benefits of having Legoland in the community.
The Legoland California Resort was recently acquired by Merlin Entertainment Group, based in England, which oversees the operations of the four existing Legoland parks.