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Santa Monica's First New Luxury Hotel in More than a Decade Opens Downtown
By Jorge Casuso
June 28, 2019 -- A landmarked Downtown office building -- renovated and flanked by a sleek, curved addition -- opened last week as Santa Monica's first luxury hotel in more than a decade.
The Santa Monica Proper at 710 Wilshire, a six-story, 271-room hotel anchored by the 90-year-old Professional Building, is expected to invigorate the northeast corner of Downtown.
The newly developed Proper Hotel includes 55 guest rooms in the historic Spanish Colonial Revival style structure, which was built in 1928 as a medical building and whose features have been preserved and restored.
The other 216 rooms are in the "curvaceous forms of concrete and glass" whose arcs "drape around the historic building, reading as monumental and orderly juxtaposed waveforms," hotel officials said.
The ground floor of the hotel is lined with retail spaces that will feature three restaurants scheduled to open later this summer, they said.
Restaurant Onda is slated to open on the ground floor of the historic building, while the new building along Wilshire Boulevard will house Surya, an Ayurvedic spa.
A retail court and paseo connect Wilshire Boulevard with 7th Street, creating "a campus-style hotel where guests and visitors may walk through and around the structures to enjoy street level retail and lobby amenities," officials said.
The architectural concept was conceived in 2005 by local architect Howard Laks, who was then a member of the City's Architectural Review Board (ARB).
"The approach was to differentiate the character defining angular forms of the landmarked building by its juxtaposed free-form cast-in-place concrete curves of the new building," hotel officials said.
"The new building makes no pretense of historicism, nor does it mimic the elegant Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of the landmark building."
The northeast edge of Downtown has long been the business district's least vibrant, and often most troubled, area.
Reed Park, which is directly across the street from the new hotel, has for years been a popular gathering place for the homeless, spurring complaints by neighboring residents.
On Tuesday, the City Council approved a budget that allocates funds to station Downtown ambassadors at the park ("Council Approves Nearly $713 Million Belt-Tightening Budget for Upcoming Fiscal Year," June 26, 2019).
When the DA for the new hotel was approved more than seven years ago, City and Downtown officials predicted it would be a boon to the area, creating more than 200 jobs and $3 million in annual tax revenues for the City ("Major Projects Move Ahead in Downtown Santa Monica," April 18, 2012)
The development agreement (DA) for the project set wages and benefits for the hotel's workers and called for other community benefits.
They included an internship program for low-income students, a local hiring provision and a payment of $244,000 to the City for improvements to Santa Monica's transportation infrastructure.
Three more luxury hotels have been proposed for the Downtown. They are the redevelopment of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, a new mixed-use hotel project designed by Frank Gehry and "The Plaza at Santa Monica" on City owned land.
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