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Building Caps Downtown Will be Subject of Santa Monica Meeting Next Week

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Lookout Staff

April 29, 2013 -- When the community meets to discuss the controversial Downtown Specific Plan next week, the focus will likely be on major projects at “opportunity sites.”

But in addition to possibly allowing buildings whose density and heights will ultimately be determined by the City Council, the plan will set height limits for the smaller projects like the 16 developments that are currently in the planning pipeline.

The proposed mixed-use projects -- which require Development Agreements (DAs) under current zoning -- would add nearly 1 million square feet of development Downtown, with some 1,200 new residential rental units. Two of the projects are hotels totaling 179 rooms.

At a community meeting on Tuesday, May 6, at 7 p.m. in the East Wing of the Civic Center, City planners will seek input on the density and heights allowed for projects under the Downtown Specific Plan expected to go before the City Council this summer.

If the January 23 Planning Commission meeting is any indication, the discussion will pit proponents of building more housing Downtown and opponents who fear the proposed heights and density levels will lead more gridlock in the heart of the city.

Once again, the discussion likely will center on the question of maximum heights and density for future development Downtown, since Santa Monica's Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) defers to the specific plan for setting such regulations.
For the smallest projects -- tier one -- staff is recommending a limit of between 39 and 48 feet while the largest projects -- tier three -- could go as high as 84 feet.

Staff has also identified eight sites Downtown as “opportunity sites” for projects that could exceed height and density limits, so long as the projects include a significant amount of community benefits.

Next week’s workshop should bring out a large crowd after the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) began rallying its troops when the meeting was announced earlier this month.

At the January Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Richard McKinnon said that he had received “an avalanche of e-mails” from residents who felt that the height and density limit question hadn't been adequately vetted in a public session.

Currently, there are an unprecedented 35 pending development agreements (DAs), 17 of them Downtown, including three hotels (two of them on “opportunity sites” and mixed-use projects.

Following is a list of the proposed mixed-use and hotel projects outside of the “opportunity sites”:

1318 2nd Street — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 38,837 sq. ft., 55 units

1325 6th Street — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 57,049 sq. ft., 100 units

1415 5th Street — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 58,442 sq. ft., 100 units

1425 5th Street — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 59,464 sq. ft., 100 units

1443 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 40,000 sq. ft., 100 units

Courtyard Marriott — 1554 5th Street, 78,750, 136 rooms

1560 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Denny’s), 103,002 sq. ft., 100 units

1601 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Norm’s), 81,371 sq. ft., 100 units

1613 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Wertz Bros.), 44,443 sq. ft., 56 units

1637 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Joann Fabrics), 55,800 sq. ft., 75 units

1641 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Aaron Bros.), 56,674 sq. ft., 78 units

1650 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 45,344 sq. ft., 90 units

1660 Lincoln Blvd. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 42,461 sq. ft., 82 units

501 Broadway — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Performance Cycle), 57,930 sq. ft., 77 units

Hampton Inn — 501 Colorado Ave., 78,750 sq. ft., 143 rooms

525 Colorado Ave. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail, 41,145 sq. ft., 77 units

601 Colorado Ave. — Mixed Use Residential/Retail (Fritto Misto/Ninjin), 58,353 sq. ft., 73 units

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