The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Nov. 7 for a three-story residential and commercial building that would add than a hundred apartment units to the Ocean Park neighborhood.

Mockups for the project show two groups of gray buildings with red accents clustered around a courtyard with tables and chairs. Each upper-floor apartment facing the street features floor-to-ceiling windows and opens onto a balcony. The 36-foot tall building will contain 7,333 square feet of retail space, 3,311 square feet of cafe space, and 750 square feet of outdoor dining space.

GRT Portfolio Properties owns the land, where Bowlmor Lanes is now located, and plans to demolish the bowling alley to make room for the new building. It will, however, preserve the “BOWL” sign, which the City of Santa Monica recognizes as a landmark. The building’s red accents are meant to complement the sign, according to the Planning Commission report on the project.

With 97 market-rate units and eight affordable units, the building will house 226 parking spaces for cars and 185 for bicycles in a subterranean parking garage, which will also hold six electric vehicle charging stations. About half of the apartments will be one-bedroom units, more than one third will be two- and three-bedroom units and about 16 percent will be studios.

The bottom level of the building is designed to appeal to pedestrians. Mockups show open outdoor seating in front of cafes and stores tucked under the second floor.

The proposed development has been controversial with some residents, who say it will make traffic in the area worse and are lamenting the loss of Bowlmor, the city’s only bowling alley. The project is exempt from a traffic study under the California Environmental Quality Act because it is near the Expo Line.

GRT Portfolio Properties held a community meeting on Sept. 13, in which residents expressed concern about whether neighbors would still be able to access their homes through the Pico Place and Main Court alleys, privacy issues and the proposed placement of trash and recycling rooms on Pico Place, according to the staff report.

GRT revised the design to address privacy concerns and moved the building’s trash room underground, but city staff did not support a change that would reduce traffic in the alleys, citing city code that stipulates buildings should provide parking access from alleys.

Anne Elizabeth Pearson, who owns a house directly behind the proposed development, said she and other neighbors plan to attend the Nov. 7 meeting to push for several conditions that address their concerns about the project, which include the volume of traffic in the alleys and noise and pollution from the project that could make it more difficult to rent properties and may present health concerns for residents.

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  1. The City should require that the developer build a new bowling alley with the apartments above. The bowling alley is a huge asset to the community. I’m surprised that the whole property has not been landmarked. Countless celebrities have bowled there over the years.

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