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Hotel earns landmark nomination

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Wednesday May 30, 2001

The 86-year-old Claremont Hotel Resort and Spa, among the most majestic buildings in the Bay Area, was nominated for historical landmarking this month, causing surprise among many who automatically assumed it was already a landmark. 

The Claremont Application Committee, a subcommittee of Berkeley-Oakland Neighbors of the Claremont, submitted the 26-page nomination document, along with 44 photos and graphics to the Oakland Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board on May 14, which began the process of making the Claremont an Oakland landmark.  

The CAC also submitted a petition signed by 650 local residents who support the landmarking.  

The 279-room Claremont Hotel is nestled in the foothills at the mouth of Claremont Canyon in Oakland immediately adjacent to Berkeley. The mostly Tudor Revival-styled hotel also boasts a newly remodeled resort and spa. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of the East Bay to landmark a very important building,” said committee Chairman Wendy Markel. “It will be nominated for the state and federal register as well.” 

Markel said the effort to nominate the building began when a group of neighbors heard of plans to expand the hotel. The KSL Resort Corp., a billion dollar luxury resort chain, which bought the hotel three years ago for $88 million, announced plans last August to expand the resort by 86 guest units, 75 time-share villas and a three-story parking garage. 

Another controversial proposal for a $15 million-overhaul of the Lake Chabot Municipal Golf Course was called off in April because of the softening of the economy, according to a prepared statement by KSL Vice President Gary Beasley.  

“There is a connection between the landmarking effort and the hotel’s plan to expand,” said Markel. “The landmarking of the hotel won’t preempt any expansion but it would create another step before any expansion approved.” 

Markel said many of the neighbors involved in BONC were surprised when they found out the hotel did not have local, state or federal landmark status. 

“The City of Oakland has given it an A1 rating as a historically significant building but it has no official status as a landmark,” she said.  

Vice President and general manager of the hotel, Ted Axe, said he shared the same amazement as the hotel’s neighbors about the hotel’s lack of historical status. 

“We’re very supportive of the effort and we’re looking forward to working with BONC,” he said. 

He said the plans to develop on the 22-acre site are currently on hold. “The economy is softening and hotel occupancy is down nationwide,” he said. “The fact is we just don’t know what we’re going to do.” 

The Oakland Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board will hold a meeting on the nomination on June 11 and is expected to make a decision on July 9. If the advisory board approves the nomination the matter will then go to the Oakland Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Oakland City Council. 

The nomination document, which took six months to complete, is available for viewing at Berkeley’s Claremont Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave., the Oakland Public Library History Room and the Rockridge and Montclair libraries. 

For more information about the landmarking process go to