SMDP Editor

One of six new developments featuring tiny apartments will head to the Architectural Review Board in February.

Under a settlement negotiated between the city and developer WS Communities, the ARB retains its authority over design elements of six proposed projects but the City is requires to issue an ARB decision on an expedited timeline with additional time restrictions on appeals.

The project to be discussed on Feb. 3 is located at 1338 5th Street.

“The proposal is a Tier 2, 6-story, 52,273 square foot mixed-use building with approximately 2,662 square feet of ground floor commercial space with 94 SRO units and 26 residential units on a 14,985 square foot parcel in Downtown,” said the staff report. “The project includes four levels of subterranean parking levels with 116 non-required parking spaces and (19 short-term and 159 long-term) bicycle parking spaces.”

The Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units will have an average unit size of 307 square feet and an average living area of 230 sf.

Multi-room units will include 16 one bedroom, six two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments. The project also includes 19 affordable units.

If approved, the project will join two other developments on the same block. The Plaza at Santa Monica is adjacent to the proposed project and will include 41,300 SF of ground floor retail, an approximately 240 room hotel, and 106,800 SF feet of creative workspace. A second project by WS Communities is proposed for 1323 5th street that would include 41 SRO units and 11-market rate units.

WS Communities, a spinoff of developer NMS Properties, threatened to sue the city after City Council temporarily banned micro-apartments in response to the developer applying to construct 363 units between 219 and 373 square feet at 1323, 1338 1415 and 1437 5th St., 1437 6th St. and 1557 7th Street, which are all in a four-block radius downtown.

The settlement allows the developer to build their six projects but stipulates WS cannot build any additional small units in the city.

In response to the council’s fears that the apartments would be rented as corporate housing, the settlement requires them to be rented to individuals who intend the apartments to be their primary home. They must comply with any future local laws meant to combat corporate housing, such as minimum lease requirements.

The Architectural Review Board will meet on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Civic Auditorium East Wing located at 1855 Main Street.