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Light Rail Brings Changes to Santa Monica
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

May 23, 2016 -- A new Santa Monica era began Friday with the opening of the Expo light rail line. And this era is about more than trains and the sprucing up of areas next to the train stations. Several developments will soon be popping up along or near the rail’s path.

A 102,500-square-foot project will replace the decades-old Denny’s on Lincoln Boulevard off Colorado Avenue. Approved by the City Council this past October, it will feature two five-story structures separated by a 40-foot-wide paseo with 100 residential and 14,000 square feet of commercial space.

“This is where I think we need to start looking at housing, all along this transit corridor area,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez (then mayor pro tem) when the council approved the project.

He continued, “There’s a real opportunity for a lot of the folks that move into these units to be car-less. And I think that’s something that we need to start supporting.” (“Santa Monica City Council Approves Denny’s Replacement Project,” October 15, 2015)

Just on the other side of the street is the site of another project that will also replace an old eatery--Norms, which was demolished in 2014. It will include a five-story, 57-foot building featuring 90 residential units and 10,000 square feet of ground commercial space.

Property owner Fifield Co. also has three other properties next to this site it would like to develop. This could mean the coming of one large combined development in the near future. (“Santa Monica Council OKs Five-Story Mixed-Use Development on Lincoln,” December 11, 2015)

A much larger development is in the works not far from the Denny’s and Norms sites.

The project on 500 Broadway, which received council approval this month, will include a seven-story building with 249 residential units along with 60,000 square feet of ground floor and subterranean commercial space highlighted by a grocery store.

The poject at 500 Broadway will "transform this particular small corner of downtown into a more livable, walkable and more complete neighborhood, including a grocery store,” said ownership partner Kevin Becker at the Planning Commission meeting in March. (“Council Approves Downtown Santa Monica Mixed-Use Project Near Rail Station,” May 16, 2016)

Connected to the 500 Broadway development is an affordable housing complex, which will be built at 1626 Lincoln Boulevard.

The owner of 500 Broadway is providing the land to the nonprofit Community Corporation of Santa Monica for this project as part of a development agreement with the City.

The building will include 64 residential units for families earning salaries 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income of $63,000.

“We’ll be serving a lot of families,” said Sarah Letts, former Community Corp.’s executive director, last October. "It’s close to the high school, to the Boys and Girls club down the street, close to a Vons. In my opinion, it’s a great project.”

Several blocks away near the city’s easternmost Expo station on 26th Street is a property that has been much more controversial.

City officials have approved a slight expansion of the nearly 200,000-square-foot former Papermate building. But much more had been planned, and that it didn't come to fruition is a disappointment to some and a relief to others.

Two years ago, the council voted 4-3 to approve the Bergamot Transit Village--a 765,000-square-foot development with office, commercial and residential space.

Slow-growth advocacy group Residocracy responded quickly with a petition and gathered enough signatures to force the council either to rescind the approval or let the voters decide.

In a well-attended meeting that was preceded by a rally outside City Hall, the council majority voted 4-1 (with two abstentions) in May 2014 to reverse the approval. (“Council Repeals Approval of Controversial Development,” May 14, 2014)

The significantly smaller project, which includes no housing, did not require council input.

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