Plans for an eight-story building at the corner of 6th Street and Colorado Avenue are moving forward.
Last week, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which is located one block from the Downtown Santa Monica Expo Line station and will replace two low-rise buildings. The building at 601 Colorado Ave. will contain 140 market-rate apartments and developer WS Communities will satisfy the project’s affordable housing requirements by building 37 deed-restricted apartments in a six-story building at 1238 7th St.
Fritto Misto, an Italian restaurant popular among locals, has occupied its one-story building at 601 Colorado Ave. for about three decades. Other tenants in the two buildings include sushi restaurant Ninjin and dance instructor Maestro Studio.
Fritto Misto will move into the restaurant space at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and 7th Street that Native vacated in March, according to public records. The new location is more modern and central in the downtown area.
WS Communities, an offshoot of controversial developer NMS Properties, first filed plans for the 601 Colorado Ave. project in 2013 and put it on hold while the city of Santa Monica created the Downtown Community Plan (DCP), which sets development standards for the downtown area.
The new building will be comprised of four white towers connected by intermittent bridges. The ground floor will contain three businesses, two plazas and a cafe.
Dave Rand, an attorney representing WS Communities, said architect Michael Folonis divided the building into four parts to allow more light and air to reach the apartments.
“It creates a far more livable and habitable project for this important location,” he said.
The Planning Commission approved the project because it complies with the DCP, but commissioners said they were concerned that the apartments’ small kitchens and bedroom configurations would make them undesirable for families.
Rand said the project isn’t necessarily designed for families.
“The demand isn’t there for family units,” he said. “Families are not renting the three-bedroom units we have downtown. It may be an inconvenient truth, but it’s the truth.”
Commissioner Richard McKinnon also said he was worried that WS Communities would not satisfy its affordable housing requirements, but Rand told the commission that the city would not permit WS Communities to open its market-rate building until it completes its affordable project.
“Our strong intention and desire is to build that affordable housing,” he said.
The building will join several other planned multi-story developments in the blocks east of the downtown Expo Line station, including another WS project across the street at 525 Colorado Ave.
601 Colorado Ave. will now move to the Architectural Review Board for design review.