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Old Papermate Factory in Santa Monica Pens New Life as Creative Office Space
By Niki Cervantes
September 26, 2017 -- Twelve years after closing, the long-vacant Papermate factory in Santa Monica’s Bergamot neighborhood is penning life anew as a slightly more than 200,000 square feet in modern creative office space.Santa Monica’s Pen Factory is finally complete, contractor Morley Builders said last week on its Facebook page.
The City’s agreement with Texas developer Hines also included $32.2 million in community benefits to schools, parks and public streets over the next 55 years.
But residents already fed up were angered by the thousands of new car trips the project would add daily and argued it was mostly office and commercial space with little affordable housing ("Hines Project Shrinks in Response to Criticism," August 17, 2011).
Activist Armen Melkonians created the online site Residocracy.org to start a grassroots petition drive to put a referendum before voters and, within days, had far more valid signatures than needed for the November election ("Santa Monica Referendum Gathers More than 13,000 Signatures," March 12, 2014).
In a rare move, the council then rescinded its decision on Bergamot. Hines subsequently sold the site to its current owners, who added little to the original 196,317-square-foot footprint ("Slow Growth Advocates Claim Victory in Battle Over Controversial Santa Monica Development," May 15, 2014).
The building renovation includes a new mezzanine level, three new elevators, four new exit stairs, toilet rooms, outdoor decks, and a courtyard. The existing building height will remain unchanged.
The parking structure includes elevators, two exit stairs, shower and toilet room, and bicycle storage. The proposed parking structure is located where there is existing surface parking.
In the end, the development required only Administrative Approval.
On Monday, those who successfully fought off Bergamot Transit Village were glad to welcome Pen Factory.
“Whenever I drive by the Pen Plant I feel such a sense of pride as one of the more than 13,000 Santa Monica residents who circulated and signed the referendum to stop the massive development,” said Tricia Crane, who has also been a leader for Residocracy.
“It was such a great day for democracy,” she said. the day we turned in those petitions.
The much smaller adaptive reuse “is the hoped-for outcome,” Melkonians said.
Not everyone was pleased with the substitute project.
“I thought then and still think it should have been housing,” said Judy Abdo, a former mayor and leader of Santa Monica Forward, which advocates more transit-oriented development.
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