MID-CITY – The project set to controversially replace a 109-space trailer park is slowly gaining approval from city officials.
The Architectural Review Board (ARB) ‚Äî in this case the last stop in City Hall’s development agreement process – asked developers to refine their plans for the Village Trailer Park land a second time but noted that they were getting much closer hitting the mark.
Several residents bashed the project during the public input portion of the ARB’s July meeting, criticizing both its tumultuous past and the current designs.
City Council went back and forth on an agreement in 2012 and 2013, ultimately deciding to allow the park’s owners to develop the land and oust the residents.
Some residents accepted buyouts from the developer, sued, died, and/or relocated to the Mountain View Mobile Home Park, which sits on City Hall-owned land. Ten trailers are allowed to remain on the Village Trailer Park land.
Developers came to the ARB with designs in February but were asked to resubmit their plans. Earlier this month developers came back with the designs, which the ARB members said were a great improvement. In particular, they lauded the removal of double-loaded corridors – corridors with dwellings on either side – and the breaking up of the project’s massing.
Still they all agreed that more work needs to be done.
“I think there’s been substantial improvement since the last time we saw this so I’m generally in support of that substantial improvement but I think it has farther to go,” said Boardmember Margaret Griffin.
The Colorado Avenue project includes 374 residential rental units and up to 24,940 square feet of ground floor neighborhood-serving retail in three buildings, including one that is five stories tall.
“It’s a dense project. It’s a tall project,” said Boardmember Kevin Daly. “But I think that a lot of that can be addressed by going through this thing with an X-acto knife and taking out pieces that don’t really add to the experience of being there.”
Andrew Hoyer, president of Mid-City Neighbors, was less confident.
“This is absolutely radical in this city, in Santa Monica, that we ‚Ä¶ (kicked) old people and disable out of their property so a developer could make a lot of money,” he said, “and what does he do? He provides us with this huge, obnoxious building. This is far too large for our neighborhood.”
Resident Zina Josephs agreed.
“Between 26th Street and Stanford on the south side of Colorado, developers are essentially creating a five-story Great Wall of China,” she said. “Perhaps it’s a porous wall, but it’s still a wall.”
Daly suggested spreading the landscaping out more evenly across the project and requested that bike parking be improved. The level of architectural detail needs to be bolstered, he said, citing as an example handrails that look like they were purchased from “the Motel 6 store.”
Boardmember Amy Rothman recused herself from the discussion, noting that she knows people who live in the neighborhood and therefore felt conflict in participating.