There are three landmark-related development projects are up for public hearings this week.
The appeal of landmark designation for a 47-unit, 1950s era apartment building at 301 Ocean Ave. is on Tuesday’s City Council agenda (Item 6A). The building was formerly owned by Santa Monica’s first female mayor, Clo Hoover.
Texas-based, mega-developer Trammell Crow Company purchased the property and has evicted the building’s tenants. If the landmark designation is set aside, the firm plans to develop 26 units of multi-million dollar, three- and four-bedroom condominiums. The proposed project will be four floors high, approximately 60,000 square feet in size and have two levels of subterranean parking for 60 vehicles.
Pending upholding of their appeal, Trammell Crow will likely request a Development Agreement — a negotiated deal between the city and developer that allows more flexibility in how the property is developed than is allowed by the generally more restrictive zoning codes.
The DA can include design features that may not be permitted under the general codes such as height and density. However, it must conform to the general plan. In return, the developer must provide some public benefit. Low income housing — on or off-site — are big favorites with City Hall.
The property located at 301 Ocean Ave. was landmarked on Jan. 12, 2009 by the Landmarks Commission. The reason for the landmarking was landmark Criteria 3: Identification with historical personages or with important events in local, state or national history — that being Clo Hoover who co-owned and occupied the building for 45 years. Attorneys for Trammel Crow argue that the structure only meets only one of the six possible landmark criteria, therefore granting landmark status was “in error.”
Then there’s the eviction of tenants from the 47 units — many were elderly and low income tenants, some were under rent control when the Company “Ellised” (discontinued rentals) the property. If City Hall grants the appeal and Trammel Crow obtains their development agreement, city officials will be rewarding the developer for evicting many dozens of vulnerable rent controlled tenants who the city claims it protects.
Trammel Crow contributed $6,150 to Save Our City, the “No on T” committee that opposed last fall’s failed ballot Measure T (or “RIFT") that would have placed limits on future commercial development in Santa Monica. Trammell Crow’s point man on the project, Gregory Ames also personally donated $250 each to Mayor Ken Genser’s and Councilman Richard Bloom’s reelection bid. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, they both need to recuse themselves from deliberating and voting on this item.
One more proposal<p>
The other (former) landmark before council Tuesday night is an extension of design compatibility and development review permits for a proposed nine unit condo project at 125 Pacific St. According to an Aug. 21, 2006 planning memo, the Mission Revival style bungalow court building on the project site was constructed in 1924 and identified on the City’s Historic Resources Inventory.
On July 24, 2004, the Landmarks Commission declared the 24-unit courtyard apartment building a city landmark. This decision was appealed by the property owner and on July 26, 2005, City Council upheld the appeal, overturning the landmark designation.
The proposed condo project has been delayed numerous times since winning initial Planning Commission approval in December of 2005. Tomorrow, council is being asked to extend review permits for this long delayed project, again.
One of the larger new developments proposed for the downtown area will be before Planning Commission on Wednesday evening. The commission will consider a request for a Development Agreement to readapt a landmarked seven-floor, 1928 office building at 710 Wilshire Boulevard — The Santa Monica Professional Building — for hotel use, a conference center with ground floor retail and construction of a new, eight floor, “platform,” hotel building with 240 guest rooms, 16 multi-family apartments, 14,700 square foot food market space, open air paseo and four floors (430 spaces) of underground parking on an adjacent, nearly one-acre surface parking lot
Developer, Maxser and Company has suggested “public meeting rooms” as one possible “public amenity” in exchange for the extra height and density allowances requested through the proposed Development Agreement.
The ornate, 81-year-old, Spanish Colonial Revival-style building was declared a Santa Monica Landmark on Sept. 12, 2005. The designation invokes restrictions that preserve/maintains the exterior facade of the original edifice but doesn’t apply to the new construction.
Maxser contributed $10,000 to Save Our City, co-chaired by current Planning Commission Chair Terry O’Day. Maxser’s was one of the larger campaign donations to the “pro-development” political group. It’s widely rumored that O’Day will run for City Council in 2010 with substantial backing from “business and developer” interests. O’Day and fellow Planning Commissioners affiliated with SOC should also recuse themselves from deliberating and voting on item based on obvious conflicts of interest.
The Planning Commission meeting will be held in City Hall City, City Council chambers at 7 p.m.