Council will take another swing at a potentially signature development this week with the return of a Frank Gehry designed project along Ocean Ave.

Today, the site has four buildings (three commercial and one mixed-use commercial/residential) and a surface parking lot. The proposal is for a 130 foot (12 stories) project covering 11 parcels totaling 82,500 square feet along Santa Monica Blvd. and Ocean Ave.

The project has been in the pipeline since at least 2013 but planning stalled pending the development of the DCP. Early versions would have been 244 feet tall and reducing the height has altered the mass and density of the project. It now contains four distinct residential buildings planned around a pedestrian-friendly ground floor. The residential portion is now limited to 79 rental units (19 replacement rent-controlled, units, 18 affordable units, and 42 market-rate units) after the developer removed 22 condos from the project.

Frank Gehry has designed a project that includes commercial (24,700 square foot of retail/restaurant), hotel (115 room), museum (40,000 square foot cultural/museum campus) and residential (79 units) use while retaining two landmarked buildings on the site. There would be a publically accessible rooftop deck and underground parking. At past public meetings, Gehry said he personally worked on the design and even his projects can be improved with the collaboration of those involved.

Council will be presented with two key considerations for their discussion.

First, they will comment on the projects consistency with the Downtown Community Plan. The DCP allows for a project of this height/density and it calls for projects that support “high-quality, mixed-use district offering opportunities for housing for people across the income spectrum, jobs, arts and culture, and community/visitor gathering places.”

Second, council will be considering community benefits based on the DCP’s five priorities: publicly accessible open space, affordable housing, mobility and circulation, cultural institutions and historic preservation.

The project is one of three covered by special zoning rules in the Downtown Community Plan that requires a Development Agreement with specific development standards including requirements for sustainability, mobility and specific uses for the property.

While the Tuesday meeting will be the first time Council has seen the new version, it has already made stops at the Architectural Review Board, Landmarks Commission and the Planning Commission. All three groups advanced the project with comments and reactions to the revised project has been generally positive.

Staff are recommending the project move to the forward with negotiations for a possible Development Agreement.

“Based on staff’s preliminary review of the new submittal, the revised design relates substantially better to the property’s unique site conditions in a distinctive and dense pedestrian environment across from Palisades Park and oriented west to the ocean,” said the staff report. “The proposed site design recognizes the urban patterns found in the Downtown District and complements this setting through building siting and orientation; building mass modulation applied – in particular – to the residential buildings; location of uses and program; and preservation and adaptive reuse of two designated City Landmark buildings.”

Council will meet on June 12 in City Hall, 1685 Main St. Open session begins at 5:30 with open session no earlier than 6:30 p.m.

editor@smdp.com

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