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Santa Monica Planning Commission to Take Up Norm’s Site, House Rented by Former Mayor

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 Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

September 11, 2015 -- A mixed-use development proposed to replace the former Norm’s Restaurant in Santa Monica and an appeal from a former mayor on the approval for his landlord’s rehabilitation project are among the items on next week’s Planning Commission agenda. 

The 78,000-square-foot development proposed for the site on Lincoln Boulevard off Colorado Avenue occupied by Norm’s for half a century is several years in the making and has gone through a few modifications during the permitting pipeline process.

In its current form, the project calls for a five-story, 57-foot building featuring 90 residential units, 10,000 square feet of ground commercial space and a subterranean garage with 168 spaces.

Of the residential units 46, would be one-bedroom, 17 would be studios, 18 two-bedrooms and nine three-bedrooms.

This project is included in a development agreement that only the City Council can finalize. The commission is being asked to make a recommendation. 

As with all development agreements, the project owner is required to offer public benefits.

Among the benefits negotiated between the Chicago-based owner Fifield and City staff are affordable rent restrictions on 18 units, 15 parking spaces that could be used for public parking and a local hiring program during construction.

The developer has also agreed to pay the City more than $2 million for municipal programs, including transportation, parks and recreation, affordable housing, sustainability, early childhood initiatives and historic preservation. 

Also on the agenda is an appeal from former mayor Mike Feinstein of the Architectural Review Board’s (ARB) decision in February to grant the request from the owner of a home on Hollister Avenue in Ocean Park to rehabilitate a rear facade.

The rehabilitation project includes the removal of two doors that once accessed a no longer existing second floor balcony and the installation of two wooden double-hung windows. Any remaining openings would be filled in with clapboard siding.

Feinstein lives in the rent-controlled home, which has been designated by the Landmarks Commission as a “structure of merit.”

In a letter to the commission, Feinstein wrote that the project did not meet “required ARB criteria for good taste and neighborhood compatibility.”

He further wrote in the appeal, “The plan as approved by the ARB fails on standards of compatibility, sustainability and accountability,”

Several area residents, including former mayor Judy Abdo, submitted letters to the commission supporting the appeal.

“I believe there are more reasonable alternatives to what is proposed that would better fit the neighborhood,” Abdo wrote. 

"By closing up the rear of the house, the current proposal would turn its back on its neighbors, the environment and the South Beach Track, while eliminating tenant open space," she added.

Abdo concluded, “Here is a case where you can prevent a self-inflicted erosion of our neighborhood character by sustaining the appeal and giving direction for a design more in harmony with its surroundings -- socially, architecturally and environmentally.”

Feinstein brought his complaints to the ARB meeting in February, but the board members voted unanimously in favor of the property owner.


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