UPDATE: Meeting postponed as Guernewood Park resort developers seek minor land use changes
By Rollie Atkinson, SoCoNews Staff, SoCoNews, October 23, 2021
UPDATE: A public hearing on the proposed 120-room resort on the Russian River in Guernewood Park, originally scheduled by the county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) for Oct. 28, has been postponed until an unannounced date in early 2022. The hearing was postponed at the request of newly-appointed BZA member Eric Koenigshofer who asked for more study time on the 9.61-acre project.
120-room destination project has been proposed since 2008, delayed by local economy cycles. New hearing on October 28.
A 10-acre riverfront parcel at the center of Guernewood Park has set vacant for almost 50 years since the half-abandoned Ginger’s Rancho resort was torched by vandals. Before that it was the site for almost a century of the Guernewood Park Resort that hosted big band dances, tourists debarked from excursion trains, beach revelers and bowling and roller rink enthusiasts.
The current owner of the property, Kirk Lok, of Lok Hospitality, has been trying to win final approvals to build a new resort since at least 1998. On Oct. 28, Sonoma County’s Board of Zoning Adjustments will hold a public hearing to consider approval to allow for a streamside conservation plan and riparian zone encroachment for his 120-room development. Most of the approvals for a Guernewood Park resort have been previously granted as ebbs and flows of the local economy and tourism business have stalled Lok’s timing to break ground.
Lok recently brought in a new investment partner, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, which owns and manages high-end destination properties on the west coast and beyond. The firm is based in Kirkland, Washington.
The Oct. 28 hearing will begin at 1 p.m. and is a virtual meeting hosted on Zoom. The meeting I.D. is 962-4871-2760 and the passcode is 693832. The project was the subject of a recent a Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council meeting where concerns were raised about increased traffic on Highway 116 and a shortage of nearby worker housing for the proposed 37 employees. Several MAC members also voiced support for the project that includes public access to the river and the preservation of hundreds of mature redwood trees. The site is bordered on the east by Hulbert Creek.
The Guernewood Park resort would include 100 rooms in a main building and 20 suites located in detached bungalows. A second building would include meeting rooms, a spa, restaurant and large lobby with floor to ceiling glass wall overlooking the river. The proposed building height is 53 feett and includes four stories. The address is 17155 Highway 116 and has been very popular with locals and others as a swimming beach in the past few decades. The resort location is adjacent to the Dubrava condominium project, which was built in the mid-1980s. The Dubrava developers won tentative approvals for a resort before selling the 9.61-acre parcel to Lok in 1998. Lok’s original resort plans filed July 17, 2008 included 180 rooms and a more rustic design than the more modern glass and metal design now proposed by Noble House Hotels.
The resort project has been the subject of at least 12 public meetings since 2018, including two sessions hosted by the Russian River Chamber of Commerce and others with adjoining neighborhood associations.
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