PICO BLVD — Planning commissioners will get their first look at a remake of the former Grammy building next week, but they may have to look outside Santa Monica’s borders to judge how the proposed project impacts residents and businesses on Pico Boulevard.

Trammell Crow Co., a Texas-based developer, bought the property in October with investment firm Westport Capital Partners for approximately $10.5 million, according to those familiar with the deal.

As proposed, it will include 300 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial, as well as 554 parking spaces in a two-level subterranean garage.

The development will be spread across four buildings, each between two and four stories high, and is designed so that the highest portions are next to Interstate 10 and within the center of the site.

Community members who have already seen the proposal are worried about its size and the traffic impacts it would have, despite its proximity to the future Exposition Light Rail Line.

Perhaps as consequential to the discussion of traffic is what’s not in a report from city officials — a look at two other mixed-use projects being built nearby.

The first is located across the intersection at 12301 through 12333 Pico Blvd., a 95-unit complex with 163 parking spaces that will soar five stories above the intersection where the Rent-a-Wreck car lot used to be.

The second, at the corner of Pico and Sepulveda boulevards, is a massive development owned by Casden Properties that will include 266,800 square feet of commercial floor area and approximately 512,870 square feet of residential area.

That pencils out to four, eight-story buildings built on top of a two-story podium with 538 residential units, according to the draft environmental impact report for the project. It proposes to include over 2,000 parking spaces, likely for the Target store that appears in the conceptual drawings.

The two projects are in West Los Angeles, but if all three are built as proposed, over 900 new residences and 271,000 square feet of commercial space will be packed within a mile of each other on Pico Boulevard.

The projects have never been mentioned in the same sentence as far as Mike Eveloff knows.

Eveloff is a member of the Tract 7620 Association, a Los Angeles neighborhood group that has taken a stand against the Casden development because it proposes to put families in an area with air of such poor quality that it could hurt small children.

Health risks aside, the presence of so much development in an already-congested corridor strikes him as a bad idea.

“I can’t imagine a choke point that’s worse than Bundy/Pico,” Eveloff said.

It’s hard to know if those behind the projects are taking the others into account as they push forward.

The Casden project at Sepulveda and Pico has published a draft environmental impact report that does not mention either the Santa Monica project or the other West L.A. project on a list of nearby developments.

Neither West L.A. project is mentioned in the staff report that Planning Commissioners will see next Wednesday when the Trammell Crow Co. building comes before them for the first time.

“The real problem is that each one of the fiefdoms do their own development in their own way for their own reasons,” said Jay Handal, chair of the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. “Quite honestly, because they don’t really work with each other, they tend to work against each other and in the end, the average citizens lose.”

This time, however, it could be different.

The two projects in L.A. are much further along in the planning process than the one in Santa Monica, which doesn’t yet have architectural drawings or a defined community benefits package.

It will have to make it through next week’s Planning Commission float up and then another preliminary discussion with the City Council before much of the real work of fleshing out the project begins.

Planning commissioners have the ability to consider nearby projects when they discuss the development agreement for the Grammy building to determine whether or not it’s appropriate for the site, wrote Amanda Schacter, City Hall’s Planning Division manager, in an e-mail.

The real solution, in Handal’s eyes, would be a regional planning effort so that all of the “fiefdoms” could stop pretending that their individual approvals do not impact the whole of the Westside.

“The way planning is set up, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Handal said.


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