The developers of a six-story building that will rise behind the Santa Monica Public Library on 6th Street are going back to the drawing board after the Architectural Review Board expressed concerns Tuesday about the building’s design.

WNMS, a subsidiary of the controversial and prolific developer NMS, entered into a Development Agreement with the City of Santa Monica in November 2017 to build a mixed-use project at 1325 6th Street on a site that is currently a parking lot. City staff said WNMS has not yet changed the design of the building to address concerns the ARB, Planning Commission and City Council raised regarding its appeal to pedestrians and livability for tenants.

“The plans remain largely unchanged from what was approved by the City Council as part of the Development Agreement and have not adequately addressed the concerns included that require special design attention,” staff wrote in a report.

The Board said Tuesday that the building’s residential units needed more access to light and air, the ground-floor commercial space needed to be more oriented to pedestrians and the exterior of the building looked disjointed and cold in places – echoing the feedback the Board and the Planning Commission gave WNMS in April 2016.

WNMS told the Board it would come back with a revised design.

The Board’s and Commission’s critiques of the building were also similar to comments the Commission made in February on another WNMS project at 1650 Lincoln Boulevard. The Commission said that building looked too much like a corporate office and asked the developer to maximize airflow and sunlight in the units.

1325 6th Street has a similar balcony design to the 1650 Lincoln Boulevard project, but its façade is made up of white stucco and concrete and the metal used is lighter in color.

The ground floor contains about 4,860 square feet of retail space and a residential lobby. Two of the building’s 64 units are located on the ground floor. The subterranean parking garage will provide 138 spaces for residents and visitors, accessible from the 6th Court alley.

There are two main open spaces within the project: a 2,234 square foot rooftop deck with a spa, barbecue area, bar and tables, and a 3rd-floor open space. Staff said WNMS should reconsider that space’s design to create larger gathering spaces for residents.

NMS, WNMS’s parent company, was managing the 1325 6th Street project as late as November 2017 and submitted plans in 2012.

In 2017, two Planning Commissioners voted against the project because a judge found that the CEO of NMS, Neil Shekhter, and his associates forged contracts and destroyed evidence. The City conducted a probe after the court case concluded and found the developer was in compliance with all requirements regulating the 23 buildings it owned in Santa Monica at the time.

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