Big news finally came for the long-shuttered Hotel Laguna this week, with the announcement of the hotel’s acquisition by the Laguna Beach Company, headed by real estate investor Mo Honarkar.
“We’re thrilled to acquire Hotel Laguna – an iconic jewel in our beloved town,” Honarkar, CEO of the Laguna Beach Company, said in a statement. “It’s an important component to our local economy and we look forward to restoring it to its former glory. The Laguna Beach Company is passionate about creating projects and opportunities in our hometown to encourage a sustainable future and keep the unique creative culture alive.”
Hasty Honarkar, Mo’s daughter, confirmed Thursday that the hotel was acquired with a long-term lease agreement with the owner, Earl Merritt.
Joe Hanauer, Greg MacGillivray and James “Walkie” Ray also announced the recent development this week with a letter to the editor, as the three partners had been invested for more than two years in trying to reach a lease agreement with Merritt.
“We’ve been advised that the property owners have decided to go in another direction and enter into a transaction with another party,” the trio wrote. “We extend our best wishes to the principals who will be moving this project forward with the hope and expectation that they’ll bring this cornerstone property back to the resilience our town needs.”
The hotel is the latest addition to Honarkar’s holdings in town. Back in October, Honarkar unveiled plans for the Cleo Hotel project at 690 South Coast Highway. His holdings also include other Laguna properties such as the Royal Hawaiian restaurant, Seven Degrees event center, 14 West Boutique Hotel, Holiday Inn, several multi-unit vacation rentals, and the Art-A-Fair property.
Honarkar shared his long-term vision for the city’s Arts District last October, saying he would eventually like to build an underground parking structure that could host up to 800 parking spaces. He also spoke of future plans to create affordable housing that includes studio space for artists.