By Kate Cagle

Daily Press Staff Writer

Hundreds of new apartment units are poised to appear along Lincoln Boulevard in the coming years, as the city green-lights developments near the new Expo Light Rail Station.

It is the beginning of a metamorphosis of the southeast end of the boulevard from auto shops and hardware stores to five-story apartment buildings.

On Wednesday, the Planning Commission approved tentative plans for the apartment complex at 1641 Lincoln Boulevard, which will have commercial space on the bottom floor and three levels of underground parking. It will replace the Aaron Brothers frame store currently on the lot.

The 66 new apartment units are consistent with the city’s plans to add housing along Lincoln Boulevard. The developer, Cypress Equity Investments, estimates the project will provide 130 parking spaces for residents.

On their website, Cypress promises the building will feature a large pool and sun deck, a screening room and a lounge.

The building will be required to set aside units for affordable housing.

Across the street, a 100 percent affordable housing project is in the works to replace Collision Craft, which after fifteen years was forced to move to a new location in Los Angeles. Local non-profit Community Corp. will manage 64 unites of affordable housing in the five-story space.

Just a two-minute walk away, the Planning Commission has approved a 5-story apartment building for 1560 Lincoln Boulevard. That project, developed by NMS Properties, will create 100 apartment units and 232 underground parking spaces, as well as 13,800 square feet of commercial space.

And that’s only the start: the boulevard is looking to change drastically over the next two decades

As the city finalizes the Downtown Community Plan (DCP), there is an increased focus on increasing the amount of apartments in the city as a way to combat rising costs. In 2015 Santa Monica rents went up by 17 percent, according to Community Corp., emphasizing the need for more rooms.

The city views southeast Lincoln as a good spot for apartments because of its proximity to the Promenade, public transportation and Interstate 10. While drafting the DCP, strategic planners are looking for was to encourage developers to build apartment in the area.

But most of those new tenants will still likely bring cars, adding traffic to an already congested boulevard. At a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi expressed concern the city is “building the great wall of Lincoln one brick at a time.”