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May 21, 2022

Permits for hotel project expire, distribution centers planned for Manabe-Ow

WATSONVILLE—Plans to build a four-story, 80-room hotel at the busy intersection of Main Street and Freedom Boulevard have once again stalled.

Watsonville Community Development Department Director Suzi Merriam says that the permits granted to the developer, Kamalesh Patel, expired last fall. If the project is to move forward, Merriam said, Patel would need to start the permitting and planning process from scratch.

The project at 1 Western Drive dates back to at least 2016 when it received approval from the Watsonville City Council as a 75-room La Quinta Inn. Two years later, the plans were revised to accommodate more rooms and parking spaces. It also changed from a La Quinta Inn to a Hilton Home2 Suites.

The original proposal was heavily criticized by residents living in the nearby neighborhood of mostly single-family homes for its size and its possible impact on traffic and parking. It again landed on the neighbors’ radar in late 2019 and plans to develop the lot slowed during the pandemic.

After years of delays, the old National 9 Motel was razed in February 2021 to make way for the new hotel but the work never began.

Patel, who says his family has owned the property since 1993, said that he still plans to build a hotel on the half-acre lot, but that the pandemic has presented several challenges. He says that his company has invested roughly $750,000 into the project.

“We’re committed to working with the city to develop that lot into something that can help the city,” he said.

Manabe-Ow starts to fill

Two distribution centers are in the early planning stages for the Manabe-Ow Business Park on the west side of Watsonville off Ohlone Parkway.

One will be roughly 157,000 square feet on an 11.9-acre lot directly across from the bustling FedEx distribution center. That building will house operations for Reyes Beer Division, which last year acquired Elyxir Distributing, LLC.

Plans for that building were first submitted on July 30, 2021, according to Matt Orbach, a principal planner with the city. It will likely go before the Watsonville City Council for final review in 2-4 months.

The other building will be constructed on a 13.4-acre lot closer to the roundabout at the intersection of the Manabe-Ow Road and Ohlone Parkway intersection. That building, which does not yet have a tenant, will be roughly 175,000 square feet.

Those plans were submitted to the city on Jan. 5 and are not expected to come before the council for some time, Orbach said.

Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.


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