Two proposed mixed-use buildings along busy Lincoln Boulevard will go before the Planning Commission Wednesday. There are the latest properties bringing hundreds of new apartments and thousands of square feet of commercial space to one of Santa Monica’s busiest boulevards. Both properties are owned by WNMS Communities, a spin-off of NMS Properties, the largest manager of apartment complexes in Santa Monica.

1318 Lincoln Boulevard

WNMS Communities is seeking a Development Review Permit for a five-story building with 43 apartments and 3,400 square feet of commercial space near the corner of Lincoln and Arizona Avenue. Planning staffers describe the modern, modular looking building replacing a 40-space parking lot as having “dynamic architectural expression.” Inside, a sunbathing deck will look over a private courtyard for residents with a jacuzzi. The project currently calls for three levels of underground parking with 102 spaces for cars and 35 stalls for bikes.

The building is set back far enough from the street to allow a restaurant or cafe with outdoor seating. The architect divided the outside building mass into two distinct forms that give the feeling of different buildings.

“This is achieved through use of building insets and protrusions and relieving the flatness of the building elevation with angular folded planes and deep recessed private balconies on the upper floors,” said the staff report on the project. “Changes in color and materials and the use of a canopy overhang successfully create a building that reads as two distinct entities along the street.”

A total of four units will be saved for very low income households, including two one-bedroom units (600 square feet) and two, two bedroom (850 square feet) apartments. The transportation impact fee for the project is estimated at $360,691, with an additional $302,768 going to parks and recreation.

1650 Lincoln Boulevard

WNMS Communities is seeking a Development Review Permit to combine three parcels into one 5-story, 98-unit apartment complex with 7,025 square feet on Lincoln Blvd near Olympic Blvd. The modern, glass-encased building will replace a one-story, 50’s era building near the busy on-ramp to the 10 freeway. Plans include a three-level underground garage with space for 210 cars and 173 bicycles.

While the discussion will begin Wednesday, staff is already recommending commissioners continue the item to allow the architect to reconsider the overall mass of the project. Critics say the central courtyard doesn’t have enough natural light or airflow and the outside is too imposing. Staff says the architect should vary the roof line and the extent of a glass curtain wall to reduce the building’s “massive appearance.”

“The (Architectural Review) Board was explicit in commenting that the overall project exhibited a more corporate design expression and not a mixed-use residential project,” the staff report said. “The design needs to introduce additional materials, architectural elements to enhance the design as residential. Board members noted that the concept requires the use of high quality materials to avoid mediocrity.”

Eight units will be reserved for very-low income residents, including four one-bedroom (600 square feet) and four two-bedroom (850 square feet) apartments. Staff says WNMS Communities will not have to pay a transportation impact fee based on current calculations. They will, however, pay about half million dollars for parks and recreation for the project.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press