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Santa Monica Conservancy Tour Highlights Courtyard Corridor

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

August 3, 2015 -- If the popularity of a walking tour is any  indication of support, then the proposed San Vicente Boulevard Historic District in Santa Monica has a good chance of becoming reality.

The Conservancy's August 9 tours of the proposed district, which was nominated for designation at the July 13 Landmarks Commission meeting, have sold out, although those interested can still get on a waiting list in case a spot opens.

“Courtyard housing is unique to Southern California,” Conservancy officials wrote on the group's web site. “This corridor contains the most significant and cohesive concentration of courtyard buildings in Santa Monica, creating a distinctive neighborhood of architecturally noteworthy buildings built between 1937 and 1953.”

The proposed district between Ocean Avenue and 7th Street is characterized by two-and-three story buildings “configured around lawns and gardens set back from the street,” Conservancy officials said.

Designed in such varied styles as Streamline Moderne, American Colonial Revival and Mid-Century Modern, the district would boast “the most significant and cohesive concentration of courtyard housing in Santa Monica,” officials said.

“Rapidly increasing in its public appreciation and value, this distinctive neighborhood possesses a harmonious scale, architectural character, and abundant landscaped green spaces,” officials said, adding that more than half of the buildings in the corridor are “considered significant as contributors to a potential historic district.”

While any individual can submit an application for a historic district, in the case of the proposed San Vicente district, it is the Landmarks Commission that pursued the designation, requesting consultants’ and staff reports to determine if the corridor courtyards meet the City’s criteria.

If the Landmarks Commission finds the designation is justified, it will make a recommendation to City Council, which “may then adopt an ordinance to create the district and establish design standards and district guidelines concerning permissible alterations and maintenance,” according to Conservancy officials.

If designated, it would join the Third Street Neighborhood District and the Bay Street Craftsman Cluster as the only historic districts in the bayside city.

“Historic District designation is the strongest tool that exists to conserve the unique character of a neighborhood,” Conservancy officials said. “If Historic Designation is approved, it would protect the scale and plan of the courtyards, the open landscaped spaces, the distinctive architecture, and the multifamily housing from demolition or significant change.

“Official recognition of these special qualities typically enhances property values, highlighting those neighborhood amenities that make the San Vicente corridor an attractive place to live,” officials said.

The tours – which will offer more information about Santa Monica’s courtyards and the distinctive character of the corridor – will take place Sunday, August 9 at 11am, 11:30am and noon. Tours will begin at the northeast corner of San Vicente Boulevard and 4th Street and last about one-and-half to two hours.

Tours are free, but reservations are required. To get on the waiting list click here.

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