Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Architect Proposes Housing Project on Fred Segal Site
By Jason Islas
September 4, 2013 -- Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architecture unveiled its plans last week for a six-story mixed-use apartment building at one of eight prime locations in the city's Downtown.
The 500 Broadway Project, proposed for the 1.5 acre site currently occupied by the high-end clothing retailer Fred Segal, is one of more than two dozen housing projects in the pipeline for Downtown Santa Monica, and with 250 apartments, it is the largest so far.
“I think it's a very exciting location,” said Hank Koning, who designed the building with Nathan Bishop. “The program that the developers put together really takes advantage of the proximity to the Expo Line.”
The site, at the corner of Fifth Street and Broadway, is walking distance from the future Expo Light Rail station at Colorado Avenue and Fourth Street.
As proposed, the project would have nearly 40,000 square feet dedicated to retail on the ground floor, a wide mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom units and 640 underground parking spaces on four levels.
Koning is excited for the possibilities.
He said that the large retail space opens up the possibility of having a grocery store on site, an amenity that would help transform downtown into a more walkable urban neighborhood.
And with the mix of units and affordability levels, it could house a wide range of people.
“Seniors could live there. It could be for families,” he said. “I could see a whole gamut. I could see someone living here who is a professor at USC.”
Since the Expo Line runs past USC's campus, Koning mused, that theoretical professor could commute by train to work.
And the building would stand about 84 feet tall, falling within the height limits set by the Santa Monica City Council in 1984.
As a result, the 500 Broadway project could likely avoid the controversy that has befallen three other projects proposed for different “opportunity sites” downtown.
Those sites, which planners had originally identified as locations for taller, more dense developments that would offer robust packages of community benefits, became a lightning rod of contention after three separate hotels submitted plans for projects ranging from 195 feet to more than 300 feet tall.
In the midst of the controversy, the City Council voted last month to limit the City's environmental impact study of potential height limits in Santa Monica's new Downtown Specific Plan to 84 feet. (“Santa Monica Won't Study Additional Height in Downtown Plan Environmental Review,” August 14)
Still, some have raised concerns over the amount of parking laid out in the plans.
“I'm certainly very skeptical of the high amount of parking,” said former mayor Mike Feinstein, adding that, with the coming light rail, the Council needs to “aggressively debate the parking standards” in the area.
Koning said that the number of parking spaces is preliminary and represented an upward limit rather than a hard-and-fast figure.
“We are planning to do a parking demand and shared use analysis because sometimes the parking figures people use are more appropriate for a suburban setting,” he said.
He added that the development and design team is looking at “unbundling” the 640 spaces, meaning that they won't necessarily be reserved for residents of the building or visitors to the retail space.
Feinstein was also concerned because he believed that if the Council had studied the possibility of a taller height limit for the site, the design could have included more green space.
While the project's design would allow for maximum light and open space and include courtyards, Feinstein felt that if the Council had voted to study additional height in that area, the design could've have included more green space.
Koning said that the design is meant to maximize light and air flow into the property and that there are “beautiful courtyards” proposed for the site.
The project is still a long way from being finalized and the developers expect to have their first meeting with the public sometime in the fall.
In the meantime, 500 Broadway has its own website that will be updated as the project develops.
Koning said that the project speaks to the future of living Downtown and capturing the essence of the Santa Monica lifestyle.
“I see it as a place where all ages can live,” he said, as long as they are “prepared to live in an urban environment.”
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