Santa Monica Lookout
|Planning Commission Endorses Major Downtown Santa Monica Project||
By Jonathan Friedman
March 11, 2016 -- In an unusual night at Santa Monica City Hall on Wednesday, a large-scale development proposal received high praise and little criticism from all the public speakers and nearly all the members of a government panel
The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the City Council approve a development agreement for a seven-story, mixed-use structure at 500 Broadway, replacing a Fred Segal complex just a block from the soon-to-open Expo Light Rail station.
This 302,000-square-foot project features 249 residential units, nearly 60,000 square feet of ground floor and subterranean commercial space and 524 parking spaces in a four-level subterranean garage.
The project will "transform this particular small corner of downtown into a more livable, walkable and more complete neighborhood, including a grocery store,” said Kevin Becker from the ownership group DK Broadway LLC.
Commission Chair Richard McKinnon also had a high opinion of the project and noted the limited opposition to it.
“The argument that when you have a train, a $1.5 billion piece of infrastructure that comes into a city, that it is a sensible thing to put housing right next to that train and to activate those streets and to encourage people out of their cars,” McKinnon said.
Commissioner Amy Anderson called the project “fantastic” and "beautiful."
Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy added, “there’s a lot to like about this project,” citing, among other features, the significant amount of open space and the community benefits being offered.
The community benefits are required as part of the development agreement. The owner needed to enter into a development agreement with the City because several project features do not meet Santa Monica zoning standards.
The largest community benefit is the dedication of land for a residential complex at 1626 Lincoln Boulevard with 64 units affordable for families earning salaries 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income of $63,000.
Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s largest affordable housing provider, will oversee the Lincoln development. The commission approved a zoning map amendment for it on Wednesday and will consider a permit for the development in May.
“It’s really meaningful that there’s a tangible and enduring community benefit of affordable housing" offered in the 500 Broadway project, said Sarah Letts, executive director of Community Corporation.
Another community benefit is a contribution of more than $5 million to the City for programs dedicated to transportation, parks and recreation, affordable housing, historic preservation and early childhood development, among others.
There are other community benefits, including a community meeting space, local hiring program and a recycled water infrastructure program.
The structure is “divided into four separate building forms” above the podium level, according to the staff report, “with openings in between approximately 27 and 30 feet in average width.”
“Each building form includes resident amenities on the roof deck, collectively consisting of lounge, barbecue/dining, dog run, and landscape/garden areas for residents, including a pool and spa,” the report states.
The residential unit breakdown is 124 one-bedrooms, 51 two-bedrooms, 49 studios and 25 three-bedrooms.
Although there was lots of praise for the project, it was not universal. Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi, who cast the lone opposition vote, said it was “way too big” and would cause a significant amount of traffic.
“We keep pretending that [traffic is] not there, like we don’t have to pay the bill on this building with the traffic, and we do,” he said. “So I’m very uncomfortable with this project and, as I’ve said many times, these projects have to be smaller.”
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