City planners are again recommending that council enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Metro Pacific Capital, which returned with more detailed renderings and promises of more affordable housing. (Rendering courtesy City of Santa Monica)

City planners are again recommending that council enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Metro Pacific Capital, which returned with more detailed renderings and promises of more affordable housing. (Rendering courtesy City of Santa Monica)

DOWNTOWN — Developers are back with more specific plans for the 112,000 square feet of City Hall-owned land on Arizona Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets.

In August, the Santa Monica City Council heard three proposals for large development mixes of office, residential, hotel, and retail space and asked two of the developers to return with more fully baked plans.

City planners are again recommending that council enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Metro Pacific Capital, which returned with more detailed renderings and promises of more affordable housing.

Related California, the other developer in the running, proposes a taller building with more residential units.

Council will decide between the two, or decide to go with neither, at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The Metro Pacific team proposes a 148-foot-tall project with 172,000 square feet of office space, 52,000 square feet of retail, 225 hotel rooms and 96 residential units — half of them affordable.

Related wants a 194-foot tall project with 147,000 square feet of office, 69,000 square feet of retail, no hotel, and 260 residential units, 20 percent affordable.

Both developers were asked to propose hypothetical designs at 84 feet in height to align with council’s recent proposal to study this as a possible maximum height for buildings Downtown.

Related officials said they were unable to produce such a project and still hit all of council’s objectives. They could, as they said in the August meeting, build projects at 110 and 180 feet but these would come with downsizes to open space, pedestrian connections, and City Hall ground lease revenue.

Metro Pacific officials say that the 84-foot building is possible, that a 40 percent drop in height means only a 25 percent drop in square footage.

City planners are skeptical about Metro Pacific’s ability to create an 84-foot project that actually meets council’s proposed needs. The project’s “iconic architecture” would likely be the first casualty, they said.

“The building’s tiered design likely would be compromised and the building may risk looking more like a typical boxy form in order to achieve the rents necessary to support key public benefits like open space and public parking,” city officials said.

Of the proposed 96 residential units, Metro Pacific would provide 48 affordable units to very low-income households.

Related would provide 52 affordable units.

ICE at Santa Monica, the seasonal outdoor ice-skating rink, a Bank of America, and a Chase Bank currently occupy the space. City planners mention the possibility of the banks relocating within the new project.

If council approves either of the designs, City Hall will seek community input, city planners said, before putting forward a development agreement in 2014. If the development agreement makes it past the Planning Commission and council, construction could begin in 2016, city officials said.

 

Housing element

 

Also on Tuesday night’s agenda is the 2013-21 housing element, a framework for City Hall to address long-range housing needs. It updates and maintains the goals of the 2008-14 housing element.

The housing element, as it will be presented to council, passed relatively easily through the Planning Commission.

 

dave@smdp.com

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