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Thu, Oct. 17

Castle Hot Springs owner seeks more time to restore site

PRESCOTT ­ Owners of the historic Castle Hot Springs in southern Yavapai County may get another two years to start work on their renovation plans.

Castle Hot Springs was Arizona's first spa resort in the late 1800s, the playground of wealthy industrialists and presidents, but has been closed since 1976.

On Wednesday, the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously in favor of granting a two-year extension to the planned area development approval that recently expired. The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision.

Property owners have two years to start construction on a planned area development in rural Yavapai County, and the hot springs owners had not met that deadline, county officials said.

"Our intent is to have one of the finest resorts in the world," Garrett Hotel Group CEO David Garrett told the county planning commission about two years ago. The spa resort plans call for 35 guest units and a restaurant. Garrett has torn down some of the historic buildings, saying they were too dilapidated to save.

The Garrett Hotel Group specializes in historic, small, world-class hotel properties, a written summary from the company said. It owns The Point resort in Saranac Lake, N.Y., an historic Rockefeller estate that the Zagat Survey has ranked as the number one resort hotel in the country several times.

When county officials notified the Garrett Hotel Group that the PAD had expired, Garrett asked for the two-year extension.

"In the best of times, hotel financing is difficult to obtain; with the economic downturn and the impact of 9/11, it has proven unachievable," Garrett wrote to the county. But the company still wants to restore the resort, he said.

Garrett recently obtained a $6.5 million loan to consolidate its debt and invest in two of its lodging establishments, The Point and Lake Placid Lodge, according to a May 18 story on the online version of Hotel and Motel Management.

The planning commission gave the "thumbs up" to all six applicants Wednesday who were seeking use permits, preliminary plat approvals, a community plan amendment and PAD extension.

The most controversial turned out to be the application from Luis and Rosa Tamayo for a use permit and minor plan amendment to allow them to park two commercial trucks at their home, where employees would pick them up and return them each day, related Enalo Lockard, Development Services assistant director. The home is located near the intersection of Highway 69 and Old Cherry Road.

Several neighbors opposed the application, voicing concerns about previous alleged speeding and saying they didn't want extra wear and tear on the private road they pay to help maintain, Lockard related. Others came to support the application.

The commission approved the use permit on a split vote, sending it to the Board of Supervisors for a final decision.

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