Hotel complex proposed in ‘Old Three Rivers’

The site of a proposed hotel complex in Three Rivers.

A 200-room, three-hotel complex is being planned for three parcels in the vicinity of Old Three Rivers and South Fork drives. Earlier this week, Tulare County planners gave the go-ahead to the Patel family group of Pleasanton, Calif. to seek building permits for a complex consisting of three boutique hotels, affordable housing for workers, a bar and restaurant, retail shops, and meeting space.

The proposed development is the result of two years of planning that sought to utilize vacant property in Old Three Rivers after the original proposal to use river frontage ran into environmental obstacles. Old Three Rivers derives its name from a century ago when the Britten Store and Lodge located nearby were at the intersection of the old highway where it met South Fork Drive.  

Three Rivers Lodge, one of the first overnight accommodations in Three Rivers, was owned by the Britten brothers, Noel, Frank, and Ernest. It was located in the Old Three Rivers area. (photo courtesy Sophie Britten collection)

Michael Washam, Resource Management Agency associate director for Tulare County, said this new project will be a win-win for the applicant and the community.

The intersection of Old Three Rivers and South Fork drives, known locally in years past as the Alles Y, for the pioneer family that owned the property. The Alles family had lodging on this site at one time.

“It won’t be visible from the main highway (Sierra Drive), and it should spur some town-centered development on adjacent parcels,” Washam said.

Washam said that next month he will ask the Board of Supervisors for some TOT-based incentives to assist the developer in building a wastewater treatment facility for the hotel complex and mitigate some of the potential traffic impacts.

“It won’t cost the County anything and would be a rebate of transient occupancy tax [TOT] once the first of the three hotels is open,” Washam said.

Best-case scenario, Washam said, is that construction could start before the end of summer. Buildout of the $26 million project is expected to take two to three years.

If the project is completed, it will become the first new hotel in Three Rivers since the Holiday Inn Express (now Comfort Inn and Suites) opened in Three Rivers more than two decades ago.  

21 thoughts on “Hotel complex proposed in ‘Old Three Rivers’

  • May 10, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Big dreams for the builders and really Michael Washum ? There is no way building can start , as soon as this summer ?
    Not without an EIR. Access being high on the list.
    Using the tax from our TOT to benefit a corporation? When Cherokee Oaks can’t aquire funds for their water supply.
    There will be high interest, and big questions, and years of delays .

  • May 10, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Good! I’m to hear a new business is coming to town, and the ancillary commerce it may bring.

    • May 10, 2019 at 8:06 am

      Somehow the word “glad” was deleted …. could it be too early for me to think … or perhaps I should have finished by cup of tea …..?

  • May 10, 2019 at 8:43 am

    It’s regrettable to lose Town Halls via shutdown of the Three Rivers Village Foundation. Then, the Kaweah Commonwealth transition seems to challenge public notifications. Now the RMA moves on a two-year planning process the Planning Commission apparently approves absent 3R community comment. There were Town Halls and there was a Kaweah Commonwealth for public notifications even as recently as last year. How about using TOT for a public park and more restroom facilities vs. supplementing a developer’s massive project?

    • May 10, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Great comment David Wood!

    • May 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Great suggestion! And, how would 3 boutique hotels impact our already established local lodges? Especially off season? And…where will they get water?!

  • May 10, 2019 at 11:24 am

    What Marilyn Messa wrote. Exactly. Wow.

  • May 10, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Having houses on Old Rivers Drive my biggest concern is regarding the waste water treatment plant and its efficiency. If not done correctly, we could end of with contaminated wells!!! Also, traffic is a concern. Will the entrance be off Old Three Rivers Drive? Or 198? Will there be a turn lane on the corner of Sierra Drive and Old Three Rivers Drive? Lots of questions but I guess its a little late since the project was approved without any community concerns or comments.

  • May 10, 2019 at 11:36 am

    WHAT! I live out in that area and never heard anything about this occurring. I follow development issues.

  • May 10, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    One additional concern is parking for already existing and currently thriving local businesses on 198.. already a contentious and challenging issue, it seems like we would need to somehow find more parking for the hordes of tourists and visitors the hotels complex would add . We are a National Park entrance community but we not only don’t act like it often times, we don’t plan, we don’t communicate, and now this is springing into life it seems without environmental, social and economic considerations by both the county govt and ourselves as local residents. It seems to me some more light needs to shine on this. Kay Woods

  • May 10, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Was there an EIR and was there any public hearing? When the Patel’s wanted to build in the floodplain next to the Post Office there was a public hearing that I was made aware of. This area is not zoned for a hotel unless they received a variance and we should have received notice of this. A hotel this size will affect all of us who have wells. There are commercial areas in town that are better suited to a business like this.

  • May 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Agree with David Wood

  • May 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    We could have a solar powered, green building example of hotel complex here that would be a plus to our air, fire safety, water, construction materials and architecture, if we get together and push for it the county doesn’t have to approve this request from Patel our county can set an example for caring and acting about climate change and about air, water, and tourism in our 198 corridor to a global treasure, the Sequoia National Park
    I say let’s go for it anyone else? Kay Woods

  • May 11, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    As usual, the County is only concerned with what it costs them & the benefit they derive. No thought to what it does to our community environment including water quality (treatment which we are apparently supposed to pay for), traffic, noise, lights etc. Under development for 2 years! Where were the public notifications & hearings on a project of this scale? Two years gave them time to have already done an EIR, so is there one? Where is our local Supervisor? Does he represent us or the developers who don’t live here, but only want to extract money from the community? If they are building housing for staff, they are bringing in outside personnel & not providing jobs for local people. That area is no longer appropriate for such a large scale development. There are many neighbors whose properties will be severely impacted. I live farther up South Fork. Are they going to widen 198 for turn lanes & access? The increased traffic is going to be a problem for that location from both directions.
    What’s next? Our local McDonald’s?
    To bring in a project this size without community input is ludicrous unless of course we were not supposed to know until it’s a done deal!

  • May 12, 2019 at 11:33 am

    As far as as this historian is concerned, this is a terrible idea! This portion of land belonged to the Alles Familysince the mid 1800’s. I’m sure one of those descendants can smell the potential of money. This corner of Three Rivers was once home to a local store, a small telephone exchange and gas station. Has anyone done any exploring to even see if there are any old underground gas tanks on that corner???

    Going back even farther than the white settlers, this area was home to the Yokuts Indians and I’m wondering how many artifacts will be destroyed when the bulldozers arrive to tear up the soil. Are there Indian burial grounds there? All these factors need to be explored. Will our county Supervisors take these facts under advisement or will they go ahead with their eyes on the main prize – the almighty dollar!

  • May 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    PS – Thanks John & Sarah for crediting this writer with the photo of the Three Rivers Lodge!

  • May 12, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    TOT based incentives!! And the supervisors refused to return any TOT towards our 3Rivers community when we provided the majority of TOT!! Why did supervisors keep the community out of the loop? Bringing in more money doesn’t make it any better for those of us who live here, Michael Washam, you don’t live here, you shouldn’t have the last say! Without local public comment, this is underhanded and smells of an under the table deal with the county. We can’t even get stop signs in the Hammond area of Three Rivers that’ve been missing for over 2 years yet, the Hotels and AirB&Bs keep coming!! This is a safety issue but this developer can get TOT incentives and Tulare county with the exception of 3Rivers can increase their pocket book, at our expense! Seems like a Win (county), Win (developer) Lose (Three Rivers) to us

    • June 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      Madera Co agreed to give 50% of the TOT back to the developer (Patel) over 25 years for their recently approved hotel in Oakhurst Wanna bet the same sweetheart deal was made for 3R??

  • July 7, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I am surprised there’s any consideration for this at all. That it would be approved without the knowledge of most residents especially those residing in the immediate area.. Three Rivers is so overwhelmed right now with overnight rentals that those of us that have been doing it for years have suffered immensely due to the new popularity and everyone thinking they can make a fast dollar with overnight rentals vs monthly rentals. Property that is deemed residential has been used as commercial property for all these new overnight rentals that the county has allowed. I’m assuming it’s to collect the tot tax that has let them over look zoning. Used to be your property had to be zone for it. Now everybody can do it if they want regardless of zoning and what your neighbors may think or the impact on other residents. Just yesterday I had to approach a young man on my property on Sequoia Oaks. He was lighting a meth pipe sitting on a rock in a very dry grass area of my property. I let him know he was on private property and could easily have caught everything on fire. He said he was staying at an overnight rental around the corner. I explained to him this was not a County Road it was a private road with an easement to get to that property. Forget the legality here of the drugs for a moment, it was burning us all out of our homes that was my immediate concern .
    The impact of that new hotel will put all the small businesses out of business. We are already suffering because the county has allowed so many people that are not zoned properly to have overnight rentals. It seems it won’t bring in more tot tax. It will just put the small businesses out of business and have one large corporation paying the tax instead of several small businesses. It will open the door for corporations to come into all of our residential areas and build commercial buildings out our windows . I fear we will be taken over by those just as all the overnight rentals have taken away our privacy in our residential areas. It’ll take away our small village feel that is one of our best attractions. The reason most of us have moved here. Left large cities, invested our our money to live a quiet peaceful existence in the country/mountains without having to see large commercial buildings out our windows.

  • July 8, 2019 at 6:58 am

    Oakhurst, here we come!

  • September 15, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    I concur with Corky & Norma.. I concur with Mr Wood. I concur With Ms Messa
    I certainly concur with the gentle Lady who spoke first and most eloquently (and heartfelt) at the town hall meeting of the damage that could be done to the very fabric of our community in regard to unbridled development in our community.

    .Mr Washam stated………..“some TOT-based incentives to assist the developer in building a wastewater treatment facility for the hotel complex and mitigate some of the potential traffic impacts.” further quote………….
    “It won’t cost the County anything and would be a rebate of transient occupancy tax [TOT] once the first of the three hotels is open,” Washam said.

    For me, a little confusing on a couple levels, not the least of which is exactly what parcels are being purchased/developed? APN #’s please. Who are the legal owners of these parcels.
    Also, why three motels with 66 rooms each? Why not one motel with 200 rooms?
    Then there are tax incentives.
    #1 Why does the Patel Group warrant a rebate of TOT fees to address self created wastewater issues? (Janet & I didn’t get any financial wastewater help when KDCD raised Lake Kaweah and created new costs for us and our neighbors, unless they successfully sued for damages.
    After all, the Patel Group has $26 million don’t, they? Aren’t they going to make a killing on such a great investment in our “Rodeo Drive” like community? Of course they don’t have the money in hand.. Not their money anyway. If I’m wrong about this, please excuse me.
    They are out there right now, beating the bushes to “sell” this development scheme to would be investors. Anyone remember “Running Horse” up in Fresno?
    Destination resort without an airport or a golf course at the base of a Tier ll Park, in a po dunk little town like Three Rivers. 3 swimming pools! Really? Where is that chlorinated water going to get dumped when it goes green?

    #2…. “some potential traffic impacts”…. Oh my gosh, don’t even bother to tell me to “stay in my own lane” after40 years in the trade,
    This ain’t my lane, this is my 6 lane Hwy!
    To be sure fellow rivercitians, State &,County highway widening that will eventually include turn pockets, acceleration & deceleration lanes & bicycle lanes, not to mention storm water drainage & lighting. Dare I say Stop Lights & Turn Signals when demand/fatalities dictates. Chip Seals that are really noisy and/or overlays every 5 years if there are funds. Striping and Retro-Reflective signage will have to be maintained, again, every 4-5 years.
    Or…… let the Tulare County Baird of Supervisors/RMA not address any traffic impacts and hope for as little carnage as possible.
    No one is addressing the pedestrian issues in between the Comfort Inn and Village Green complexes as it is. No crosswalk signal, no overhead lighting. It’s just a matter of time before heartache befalls some unsuspecting tourists, or, god forbid, it will involve one of our loved ones.
    No one is really addressing the increase in traffic and parking issues that have come with an increase in park visitation (a good problem to have) and the dramatic increase in short term rentals..(both good and bad problems to have)

    #3 what does Washam mean, “it won’t cost the County anything”? As my father told me, “there ain’t no free lunch”.
    The TOT rebate is in the wind! That is tax revenue that will never make it to the general fund. and the added costs to road maintenance, emergency services, fresh water, wastewater and storm water mitigation will go on for years. It costs a heck of a lot more for these services up here in the Banana Belt than it does down on the valley floor.
    Is the County being fair to the existing motel owners that have worked hard to build up their businesses for all these years, without a kickback from the tax payers.while they now compete with Air B & Flee pop ups?
    We should be talking about a special 2% TOT increase for just the town of Three Rivers, not giving any away to the general fund or to carpet baggers looking to make a profit out of our Redbuds and Buckeyes .
    Jeez, are our TOT’s not now being spread over the entire County. Yeah, I know, the tourists have to drive on county roads to get to Three Rivers. But really, we are kinda one of the jewel’s of Tulare County. If not thee jewel!
    Yes, we need more sustainable motel beds and housing.
    Lord knows our park, service workers, and young families, looking to make a start, need affordable, safe housing.
    .I don’t know that a $300 per night destination resort, plus some roll-a-ways in one room outbuildings fills the bill.
    But at 100% occupancy and a few high end weddings, they will recoup their $26 million investment in just 3 years. lol yeah right, I see the Patel Group selling out at a profit ASAP.
    Or, if it’s partially built when the economic downturn hits.who gets stuck holding the bag?

    #4) This development plan seems a little grandiose for this time and place, not well thought out environmentally, anthropologically, nor culturally and is probably “too good to be true”
    oh yes, and this is Native American land, there is most likely artifacts in sacred ground. There are native plants species and riparian habitats to mitigate..
    Don’t take cal department of water resources aquifer stats for gospel.
    (They kinda blew that Oroville Dam deal) State wide USGS being compiled.. Believe it or not, for a town called Tres Rios, there really ain’t that much great residential water to be had and even less for commercial use.

    #5) In the near future billions & billions of dollars will be looking for a home. Cash will be taken out of the domestic and foreign stock markets. Large investors can then pay cash for 300 more Air B ‘n B’s and build another 5 motels here in Three Rivers. Land is cheaper here than in Santa Barbara County, Mendocino. County, or Santa Cruz County.
    Maybe the Department of the Interior will designate SKNP as a Tier l Park and cut their budget, and say “raise your entrance fees” and even more people will want to experience America’s best Idea.
    The old Three Rivers Union School grounds will be a marvelous location for a Hilton. and a Starbucks.
    “Gateway To The Sequoia’s” indeed!
    Activist citizens can keep Three Rivers the place we love, cherish & call home ❤️ 💕
    If we aren’t up to the challenge, Mother Nature will step in with flood or fire and kick our asses to the high water mark.
    Don’t expect much from Mother Nature’s largesse. She won’t treat us kindly if we leave a bag of poop on her doorstep.
    We’ll rebuild our homes, our town, and our lives, leave or perish.
    Just let us not complicate things by allowing mindless, unbridled development.
    Thank you for taken the time to read my views.


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