The 2,000-acre San Bernadino, Calif., hotel property has been closed to the public for nearly 60 years and is for sale at $57 million, with prospective plans ranging from a plush resort, residential development, commercial space, conference facilities, and open green space.
Arrowhead Springs hotel in San Bernardino, Calif., which was a playground for celebrities in the 1930s and ’40s, may be restored to glory as a plush resort after being closed to the public for nearly 60 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 2,000-acre unoccupied property is being sold by the interdenominational ministry once known as the Campus Crusade for Christ. Now called Cru and based in Orlando, Fla., the owner maintained the former resort as a conference center until 1999, the Times reported.
Over the last century, a number of hotels were built on the site that is now for sale at $57 million. The latest hotel was designed by famous Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams and opened in 1939. The hotel’s layout is now outdated and the 135 rooms are too small by modern luxury-resort standards, the Times reported.
“It’s built for a different time,” said El Segundo real estate broker Tom Turley of JLL.
The hotel failed in 1956, and the property was purchased in 1962 by the Campus Crusade for Christ, which used the hotel for its headquarters and made some additions, including a 2,300-seat amphitheater. To enhance its value for a sale, the Cru ministry has helped get the property annexed by the city of San Bernardino and secured approvals for substantial additional development on the site, Turley told the Times.
Prospective buyers include resort operators and housing developers, he said. The city will allow construction of 1,350 residences, an additional 800,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and conference facilities, and an 18-hole golf course, the Times reported.
Some investors are considering building an aggressively “green” resort and housing complex that would rely on geothermal, solar and wind power, Turley said. “The whole development could be off the grid.”
Most of the former celebrity hot spot will remain open space, said Michael McKinney, chief of staff to San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis. “We believe about 400 acres could be potentially developed as a hotel with some residential and shopping,” he said.
The city wants the hotel restored, though a new owner could reduce the number of rooms to make them larger, McKinney said. The 11 bungalows, each named after a celebrity, “could be refurbished to be like what the Hotel Bel-Air has now,” he said.
More hotel rooms could be added, he said, and a large modern spa could be built to capitalize on the hot springs, the Times reported.
Well-known hotelier Conrad Hilton bought the property in 1952 and redecorated the interior in a Western motif. The hotel continued to lose money, however, and Hilton sold it to another famous hotelier, Benjamin Swig, owner of Fairmont Hotel Corp. The hotel was losing $1,500 a day when Swig closed it in 1956, the Times reported.
McKinney, the San Bernardino mayor’s aide, said the city hopes another big player can bring it back to life with the addition of housing, a golf course, shopping and up-to-date spa facilities, the Times reported.
“The city stands willing to work with a developer,” McKinney said, “to make this a reality.”