Settlement paves way for Truax Hotel project in Old Town

Foes of project had threatened to file a lawsuit that could have delayed construction for years.

It’s full steam ahead for the Truax hotel project in Old Town Temecula.

The group that had been collecting signatures for a referendum on the $75 million project, which would have required the City Council to either overturn its approval or put the matter up for a vote, did not submit the required paperwork before the 5 p.m. deadline on Thursday, Oct. 5, according to Temecula City Clerk Randi Johl-Olson.

The project, slated for the length of the Third Street block between Mercedes and Old Town Front streets, was given the green light by the council in early September in a 3-1 vote, with Councilman James “Stew” Stewart dissenting.

Hotel Temecula owner Richard Beck, one of the leaders of the signature drive, said he met with Truax on Wednesday evening and they hammered out an agreement, which appears to have ended the referendum process and talk of a lawsuit.

“The only thing that I can mention pursuant to the settlement agreement is the matter is settled. Terms are confidential. I can’t say anything else that could jeopardize benefits from the agreement,” Beck said in an email to Temecula Valley Development Friday morning.

Supporters of the 150-room hotel — which includes a dedicated parking structure on the northern side of Third — have expressed excitement about the addition of a “luxury” lodging option in the historic district.

Foes have questioned its fit in the district, which for decades had been known for its rustic charms and Old West architecture.

To make way for the hotel, the Butterfield Square building at the corner of Third and Old Town Front streets, one of the district’s most rustic structures, will be taken apart.

The building was erected on that spot in the late 1970s by Bob Morris, a De Luz artist who used reclaimed wood to give the building its distinctive look.

It likely will be re-assembled in Old Town at a later date but the specifics as to where haven’t been determined.

Truax Development’s namesake, Bernie Truax, has touted the hotel project by talking about the fine dining it will offer, its ability to bring more people into the area during the week and the rooftop bar, which will feature fire rings and a pool.

He also has promised to honor the history of the Temecula Valley — and Old Town — via the interior design of the hotel.

“He is committed to Old Town and the community,” said J.J. Gutowski, Truax Development’s marketing manager, on Friday. “The project was always a five-story building and not a six-story building. We are glad that we were able to clarify that. He has met with Bob Morris and they are in discussions of how best to memorialize the Butterfield Square property.”

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