WNMS, the offshoot of prolific and controversial developer NMS, will be back before the Planning Commission this week for revisions to a project on Lincoln Blvd. that will add to the surge of development between the freeway and Colorado Blvd.

According to the staff report, the project would be a “new five-story, 50- foot high, 69,896 square- foot, mixed-use building with 98 residential units and approximately 6,372 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and a three-level subterranean parking garage designed to accommodate 205 automobiles and 173 bicycles.”

The project is located at 1650 Lincoln Blvd. near the soon to open Mel’s Diner and an affordable housing project owned by Community Corporation of Santa Monica. The building currently houses a boxing gym and sits across the street from a large set of developments that are replacing the former Joanne’s Fabric store.

This week’s meeting is the second round of discussion on the project following a February meeting that included specific criticism of the project from the Commission.

The Commission said the original design was too corporate in appearance and felt imposing for the area. The interior courtyard was called a claustrophobic space and commissioners said the project should maximize natural airflow/sunlight in the interior. Concerns were also raised regarding the health benefits of building homes near the freeway.

In addressing the concerns, the Commission said the developer should not reduce the number of units on the site.

According to staff, WNMS has responded to each concern. They have removed glass curtain walls from the exterior and included different building materials to make it feel more residential. The courtyard’s exposure to open sky has been increased from 38 percent to 54 percent. Additional breaks have been inserted along several streets to open up the airflow and some walls have been replaced with glass to allow for programming while using natural light.

An air quality study was commissioned and concluded few risks were present on site.

According to the report, “the depressed design of the Santa Monica Freeway and the prevailing winds, with the project site being upwind of the freeway, significantly limit the amount of traffic-related air-borne pollutants from penetrating and collecting on the subject site, and no significant risk for carcinogenic exposure would result (based on a 30-year exposure scenario). Noncarcinogenic hazards (i.e. carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matters) are also predicted to be within acceptable levels.”

The developer is also volunteering to install high-grade air filters for all floor levels.

According to WNMS, the changes have not reduced the number of units but have reduced the size of the units. Studio units will average 415 square feet, one bedroom market rate units will average 485 square feet, one bedroom affordable units will average 600 square feet, two bedroom market rate units will average 800 square feet, two bedroom affordable units will average 850 square feet and three bedroom units will average 1,035 square feet.

If approved, the project would join several on the block. A 193 unit, mixed-use project has been proposed for 1613-1637 Lincoln Blvd. A 90-unit project is underway at 1601 Lincoln and there are plans for a 66-unit building at 1641-1645 Lincoln. While technically not on the 1600 block, the site of the former Denny’s restaurant is adjacent to the development surge and plans have been proposed for 100 units at that site.

Planning Commission will meet on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main Street.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...