Another major development proposal has popped up on the heels of the disastrous Bergamot Transit Village Center business park development proffered by Texas mega-developer Hines for the former Paper Mate property at Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

MSD Capital, LP, owner of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel is working on a major renovation for their landmark property on Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Included in the preliminary plans are a slight reduction in the number of hotel rooms, a sizable expansion of retail space and food and beverage spaces, enlarged open garden areas and more on-site parking. In addition, condominiums would be built on the site as well as an unspecified number of affordable housing units.

Previous owners of the hotel initiated plans to redevelop the property in 2004. At one point, a 10-story tower was proposed for the Wilshire/Ocean corner. However, over the years at least one change in ownership put these redevelopment schemes on hold.

MSD Capital is an equity investment firm with offices in London, New York and Santa Monica. It was created to manage the assets of Michael Dell and his family. Dell founded Dell Inc. (computers) and has a personal worth of $13.5 billion according to Forbes Magazine (2010).

MSD’s project is very much a work in progress and months away from approaching City Hall for a Development Agreement which would include preservation of the current 1927 Palisades Building and construction of a new tower or wing 138 feet high — about three feet taller than the current hotel according to news reports.

I haven’t even seen preliminary plans or elevations, yet despite a 10- or 12-story addition, I have a gut feeling this development will be everything that Bergamot Transit Village isn’t: an exciting and handsome project.



City Hall’s April Fools’ Day joke keeps on taking


Have you noticed? Today, almost everything in Santa Monica costs more. City Hall’s permanent April Fools’ Day joke is a half-cent increase to the sales and use tax that went into effect last Friday. It’s now 10.5 percent — one of the highest in the state.

It will add a cent or two to the price of your cappuccino, a nickel to your $10 ham on rye at Izzy’s, a buck to your $200 designer jeans at Fred Segal, five bucks to your $1,000 washer-dryer from Carlson’s and $200 more on any $40,000 motor vehicle you register in Santa Monica whether you bought it here or not.

The sales tax increase was approved by voters last fall as Measure Y. Remember that some of Y’s revenues were somehow going into the pocket of our ever-financially stressed school district? One problem: City Hall just can’t give tax money away.

Now, city and school district bureaucrats are searching for a way for the SMMUSD to provide a consideration or “something of value” such as use of additional school facilities for recreation purposes for example, that would require a multi-million dollar payment by City Hall to make the sharing of tax revenues legal. Tax first and plan later, huh?


On the road with Ben and Nimish


Board members Nimish Patel and Ben Allen recently journeyed to Malibu to meet with PTA members and parents there about the state of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The last time I heard of someone from the board going to Malibu for a meet and greet, it was former board member Barry Snell who traveled there last year before the election. Snell made a big deal about communicating with Malibu parents, opening doors and mending fences. Unfortunately, he wasn’t re-elected to the school board. But, fortunately for Snell, he was recently appointed to the Pier Restoration Corporation.

I don’t know how frequently school board members make the arduous trek to Malibu, I have a feeling it’s not very often. After going through passport control, security screenings and packing a survival kit (because Malibu is so distant), it would only make sense for school board members to make the trip if they could combine it with some surfing or dinner at Geoffrey’s.

At the moment, nobody from Malibu sits on the school board. However, I’m hearing rumblings from up the coast about requiring that one or two board seats must be occupied by a Malibu resident(s). I think this is a good idea. 

First, it could help break the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights death grip on the board of education. Secondarily, it would provide Malibu with a dedicated representative or two on the board. I’m not sure what may be required to bring this about, probably voter approval to change the SMMUSD charter.

What must happen first is the city of Malibu must increase its fiscal contribution to the school district. Wherein the city of Santa Monica subsidizes the district by tens of millions of dollars annually, Malibu only contributes a fraction of that amount.

Like a lot of Santa Monicans, I’m tired of subsidizing Malibu’s students.


Bill can be reached at


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.