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Hines Project Shrinks in Response to Criticism  

By Ann K. Williams
Lookout Staff

August 17, 2011 – The latest plans for the Bergamot Transit Village Center show a major reduction in the size of the project and a corresponding increase in its open space and streets and pathways, as well as an increase in the variety of its buildings' designs.

Bergamot Transit Village Center at night.
Images from plans filed with City of Santa Monica Planning Department.

The Center's total floor space has been reduced from nearly one million to some 767,000 square feet, according to plans submitted by Texas developer Hines to the Santa Monica Planning Department.

A new park and street, open spaces, pedestrian walkways and varied building heights and facades account for much of the difference between these plans and those rejected by the City Council last March.

Current site plan.

Critics at that meeting called the project corporate and monolithic and said that it did not live up to the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) vision of an organic village.

They complained of a “canyon effect” between the buildings, which the developer says has been addressed by reconfiguring the buildings and by moving one street and adding another through the site, and by making the streets curved.

Plans to eliminate “canyon effect.”

They've also added a “direct crossing” to the planned Expo station across Olympic Boulevard near 26th Street.

To address complaints that the “pedestrian experience” needs to be improved, the developer has added a neighborhood park facing Nebraska Avenue, “pocket parks” and a winding pedestrian pathway, and has widened and added sidewalks.

Daytime view of the Center.

Retail frontage has been moved closer to the streets at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard, and ground floor heights have been increased to 18 and 20 feet.

A covered loggia parallel to Olympic Boulevard running the length of the project has been removed from the design.

Two buildings have been swapped and redesigned, and one of them has been reconfigured into two smaller buildings. Building heights have been varied, as have facade designs.

All told, the project's open space has increased from 52 to 58 per cent of the total site.
The FAR – the ratio of total floor space to the area of the land the buildings are built on – has been reduced from 3.08 to 2.47.

Creative office space has been reduced from 566,573 to 500,122 square feet.

Retail space has been reduced from 83,712 to 47,123 square feet.

And residential space has been reduced from 307,236 to 220,200 square feet.

The current plans show a breakdown of commercial to residential square footage of 61 to 39 per cent. The plans presented in March had the breakdown at 59 to 41 per cent.

The Bergamot Transit Village Center will replace the old Papermate factory between 26th and Stewart Streets along Olympic Boulevard and, at some 500 yards in length, it will be the most prominent feature people entering the city on the Expo line will see.

It's part of a larger development that will include the Expo light rail station at 26th Street, the Bergamot Arts Center and a Mixed-Use/Creative District.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the Development Agreement for the Bergamot Transit Village Center at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23 at the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1685 Main Street, Santa Monica.

The city staff report with more details will be available on line at later this week.


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