(File photo)
(File photo)

A pair of new developments have just opened and eight more are proposed for just three short blocks of Lincoln Boulevard between the I-10 Freeway/Olympic Boulevard off-ramp and Santa Monica Boulevard. More are sure to follow in the future.

In the 1600 block (between Colorado Avenue and Olympic,) Century West Partners (CWP) recently purchased four parcels on the east side of Lincoln including the Wertz Brothers Antique Mart property at 1613 Lincoln, Norms coffee shop at 1601 Lincoln and two other contiguous properties at 1637 and 1641 Lincoln.

CWP has announced plans to build four buildings with a total of 421 studios, one and two bedroom apartments and up to 48,000 square feet of prime ground floor retail space. Called the “Lincoln Boulevard Collection,” it will have to go through City Hall’s vetting process.

CWP, a large Los Angeles area developer of mixed-use projects, has become active in Santa Monica the last couple of years and is behind The Gibson Apartments at Seventh Street and Arizona Avenue. It’s a two-building, 106-unit upscale mixed-use development. CWP affiliate Cypress Equity Investments, LLC., has purchased parcels at 2919 and 3204 Wilshire Blvd. and has filed applications for a total of 182 apartments plus retail space on the parcels.

Another major developer, NMS Properties, recently purchased the Denny’s parcel at 1560 Lincoln Blvd. at Colorado Avenue. Although NMS has not filed plans with City Hall, it’s expected that Denny’s will be replaced by a five- or six-floor mixed-use building with 100 plus rental units and ground floor stores.

NMS has also purchased two properties in the 1600 block of Lincoln and plans to build a six-floor, 82 unit, 100 percent affordable and workforce housing apartment complex with a retail component at 1660 Lincoln Blvd. and a five-floor, 100-unit, mixed-use building at 1650 Lincoln Blvd.

NMS recently completed two projects — 1447 Lincoln at Broadway and adjacent 829 Broadway. The five-floor buildings feature 97 apartments and 7,000 square feet of retail space each and include a “neighborhood serving” Starbucks and a landmarked World War II era Quonset hut.

Adjacent to the Lincoln/Broadway duo, NMS proposes a six-floor, mixed-use building with 100 residential units and 2,900 square feet of retail space at 1437-1443 Lincoln. NMS has numerous other similar projects either completed or on the drawing board throughout Santa Monica.

All of the above mentioned developments will contain multi-level subterranean parking facilities and numerous amenities. The five- and six-floor, wall-to-wall developments on this part of Lincoln will create a canyon on what is now a low-rise street.

The rush to develop this area (and dramatic escalation in property values) is because the coming Expo Light Rail will be rolling down Colorado and across Lincoln beginning in 2015 or 2016. The downside is that between Expo and all the new developments, horrendous traffic problems on this heavily traveled Lincoln corridor will surely ensue. We’re talking about citywide gridlock, baby.

This stretch of Lincoln is a heavily congested north/south artery to and from the freeway — and that’s without the pedestrian and bicycle amenities also being kicked around as part of the Downtown Specific Plan’s effort to “humanize” the street.

During the morning and evening rush hours, 24 210-foot long Expo trains per hour will cross Lincoln. The crossings, including opening and closing gates, will take 90 seconds to two minutes each, so vehicle traffic on Lincoln will experience red lights most of the time. The result: huge traffic backups on both sides of Colorado.

Fast forward a few years from now. Thousands of folks have moved into the new buildings. The neighborhood around them is primarily an industrial “no mans land” without any existing residential neighborhood amenities or green space.

How long before these new residents will be asking City Hall for wider sidewalks, planted medians, trees, parklets, a bicycle lane, green spaces and pedestrian crosswalks for crossing Lincoln? City Hall planners will have their work cut out for them.


New commissioner


Last week, I wrote in this space that attorney Susan “Sue” Himmelrich, TV producer/teacher John C Smith and civil engineer Armen Melkonians were the best candidates out of 20 quality applicants for an open seat on the Planning Commission. City Council picked Himmelrich.

It’s interesting to note the pro-development vs. slow growth divide on the new City Council.

Pam O’Connor, Bob Holbrook and Terry O’Day initially supported entertainment attorney Frank Gruber who was predicted to be a pro-development vote if named to the commission. Ted Winterer backed landmarks advocate Nina Fresco.

O’Connor, Holbrook and O’Day have a history of voting “pro-development” as well as accepting substantial campaign contributions in the past from developers. Winterer, Kevin McKeown and Tony Vazquez are considered more slow-growth. Gleam Davis, who has also received substantial campaign largess from developers, has been voting with her slow growth colleagues, recently. When it was over, Himmelrich received all but O’Connor’s nod.


Another workshop


Remember to check out the community workshop on the Pedestrian Action Plan. According to publicity materials, “The purpose of this workshop will be to explore ways to make walking safe and enjoyable for everyone, everywhere in Santa Monica. City staff wants to know about what Santa Monica can do to improve pedestrian safety and comfort, and encourage people to walk in Santa Monica.”

I can’t wait to see how they’re going to make Lincoln “more livable” without further screwing up traffic. This workshop will be held Monday from 7-9 p.m. in the Civic Auditorium. Y’all come.


Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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