The California Coastal Commission has unanimously approved plans to redevelop and reuse the former Sears Building in Downtown Santa Monica.
As approved, the project will convert the former single-retailer store into a mixed-use building with a combination of food vendors, retail and office space. Approval for the project came with a set of conditions on parking, landscaping, environmental concerns and limits on future construction.
Central Coast District Director Dan Carl praised the developer for working with the commission to address parking concerns.
“We also worked very closely with the applicant there to resolve an issue with regard to the adequacy of parking on the site,” he said. “The applicant had prepared an analysis of the parking which found the new project, given it would have provided for this culinary retail and commercial and office space, would have generated a parking demand that would have exceeded the existing 180 parking lot on site.”
According to the application, the development will be 47 spaces sort of covering peak summer weekday demand.
“Of course, they had no additional area to add parking,” said Carl. “They did have a nearby metro train stop. In order to resolve this issue, the applicant has been willing and they have revised the application to incorporate a combination of valet parking service and self-parking, that we believe in combination with those public transportation facilities that are nearby will be adequate.”
Landscaping on site will be subject to the City’s Landmarks Commission rules but the Coastal Commission did impose a requirement that all landscaping incorporates noninvasive, drought tolerant plants.
An Environmental condition was imposed to guarantee construction did not impact the local environment and the final condition requires any future development on the site, “including actions that would otherwise be exempt from permit conditions” to return to the Coastal Commission for additional approval.
The store at 302 Colorado Blvd. closed in April of 2017 following the sale of the location to a real estate investment company. In July of 2015, Sears created a new independent, publicly traded real estate investment trust named Seritage. The new company took control of 235 Sears/Kmart stores and joint ventures with several mall operators including Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and the Santa Monica based Macerich Company. Under the terms of the $2.7 billion deal, 224 stores were leased back to Sears but Seritage has the right to end some of those leases and find new uses for the property. Seritage exercised that right for the Santa Monica location.