Sat11222014

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Developer aims for September start for hotel construction


Photo By: Courtesy Abigail Ahrens
Photo Courtesy Abigail Ahrens

Construction on developer Abigail Ahrens’ boutique hotel is expected to begin in 30 days.

More construction is scheduled to begin in the downtown Los Altos triangle, albeit not along First Street.

Los Altos developer Abigail Ahrens told the Town Crier she’s gearing up to begin construction in 30 days on her 12,000-square-foot boutique hotel on the 6,068-square-foot sandlot at the corner of Main Street and San Antonio Road, which formerly housed a gas station.

The Los Altos City Council approved Ahrens’ hotel project, dubbed Enchanté, in September 2010. A building permit was issued in June, according to Los Altos Senior Planner Zach Dahl. Construction on the $8 million project is estimated to require 15 months.

“I’m ecstatic,” Ahrens said about the prospect of breaking ground. “This is something we’ve been dreaming about designing and making happen. This community has needed a hotel as long as I can remember.”

Ahrens said the European-inspired hotel would feature 18 guest rooms, a manager’s living unit, a lounge and breakfast-only bistro, as well as a public plaza featuring an antique French fountain.

A 30-plus-year resident of Los Altos, Ahrens said she designed the hotel to have “a character and feeling,” pointing to the use of repolished antiques and reclaimed timber featured in areas like the hotel bistro.

Among other details, the hotel’s second-story wall overlooking Parking Plaza 3 at San Antonio Road will showcase faux windows depicting hotel guests in period garb. A trip to the Avignon region of France, where Ahrens witnessed the dedication of a building to the arts, partially inspired the faux windows.

Other features include a simulated slate tile roof, aluminum clad wood windows, wood shutters and wrought-iron railings.

“I don’t want it to feel shiny and new, but I don’t want it to feel fussy either,” she said. “It has to feel like it’s been a part of the community forever.”

That uniqueness, Ahrens added, will also extend to guest rooms, the majority of which will have standard amenities such as fireplaces, oversized showers and pedestal tubs.

“No two rooms will be the same,” said Ahrens, who added that her hotel would boast a “Paris chic” element.

Ahrens plans to promote community partnerships with local churches and venues like the Los Altos History Museum for weddings and other gatherings. Bistro food and other items, she added, will be purchased from local merchants.

Ahrens said she aims to make the hotel not just a destination for out-of-town visitors, but also a public gathering place for the community. She pointed to the project’s public plaza, as well as the hotel lounge and bistro, as community destinations.

“I’m hoping it becomes a community-centered area,” she said. “I just want to have fun with this. It’s a place for the community to express its uniqueness.”

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