Santa Monica Lookout
Residents to Weigh-In on New Gehry Tower in Santa Monica
By Jason Islas
March 20, 2013 -- Santa Monica residents will get their first chance Thursday to discuss plans for a proposed 22-story hotel on Ocean Avenue, the first project by world-renown architect Frank Gehry in his hometown in 25 years.
The meeting, which will be attended by the architect and property-owner Jeffery Worthe, will afford residents an opportunity to ask questions about the project proposed 244-foot tower at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. (“New Gehry Building Planned in Downtown Santa Monica,” March, 2013)
“This is only one of many community meetings,” according to a spokesperson. “This is just the beginning of the community outreach process.”
Thursday's meeting, which will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Main Library, will be primarily devoted to a question-and-answer session with the Gehry and Worthe, the spokesperson said.
“We're not limiting (the number of meetings),” she said. “We're interested to hear what the community has to say.”
A long-time resident, Mary Marlow, said that she's curious to find out more.
“Since it is the first (meeting), we can't really be critical about the project because we don't know much about it,” she said.
However, she did send out a notice Monday urging residents to attend the meeting to discuss what she characterized as Miami-style developments along Ocean Avenue.
“It looks like something in Miami or New York,” she said. “It doesn't look like a Santa Monica-scaled building.”
The project, as proposed, would put 125 rooms, 22 condominium units, ground floor retail and restaurant space, as well as 19 rent-controlled apartments on a two-acre parcel overlooking the beach.
It's also one of three towers proposed in the half-mile stretch of Ocean Avenue between California Avenue and Colorado Avenue.
The Fairmont Miramar recently revealed plans to build a 261-foot, 21-story building that would run from Ocean Avenue to Second Street through the middle of the hotel's five-acre parcel.
And the Wyndham Hotel, formerly the Holiday Inn, at Colorado Avenue, opposite the Santa Monica Pier, hopes to build a 195-foot tower on the property.
“I think the concern I have and that the people I talk to have is with the height and the whole opportunity-site idea,” Marlow said.
Each of the three projects are located on “opportunity sites,” locations identified in the proposed Downtown Specific Plan where height and density limitations would be more flexible than in the rest of the area.
Officials maintain that characterizations that opportunity sites would allow for unlimited height aren't true, but rather projects proposed on the sites would simply be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Thursday's meeting will also be the first major project to go through a recently-realigned community input process.
With City Staff facing an unprecedented 35 development agreements in the pipeline, the City Council took steps to help ease their workload.
One of those steps was to make developers -- instead of Staff -- responsible for organizing and running community input meetings on proposed projects.
The Main Branch Library is located at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard in Downtown Santa Monica.
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