Hotel: The proposed hotel would fit between two apartment buildings along Colorado, near the Downtown train station. Courtesy image

Grace Inez Adams / SMDP Staff Writer

A third hotel could be coming to the corner of 5th and Colorado with nearly 80 rooms squeezed onto a lot just over 40 feet wide. 

The Santa Monica Architectural Review Board (ARB) reviewed a proposal Monday night for a hotel to be built in a narrow space between two existing residential buildings along Colorado Avenue, between 5th and 6th Street. The lot is the former site of the Angels Attic dollhouse museum and is only 41.75 ft wide. The proposed project would be eight stories high with 74 guest rooms, a ground floor restaurant, outdoor seating area, lobby, guest drop-off area, rooftop bar and two subterranean levels with a fitness area and business center. 

To meet the challenges of the limited space, Howard Laks Architects, the firm designing the building, came up with an angled-balcony design. Rooms on the north and south sides of the building will have alternating, diagonal balconies designed to maximize views of Downtown Santa Monica, Santa Monica Pier, Marina Del Rey and Catalina Island on a clear day, according to principal architect Howard Laks who presented the project at the meeting. 

A review by the ARB is a preliminary step in getting the project approved and is required before the proposal can go before the Planning Commission to be granted necessary permits. While members of the ARB cannot deny or approve the project, they provide comments and recommendations regarding design, layout and material choice. 

“This is a very challenging site for any program, especially an eight-story hotel,” said board member Jesse Campos. “It just takes some getting used to an 84 ft building on a 40 ft lot, but I think for what it’s working with it’s a good first pass.” 

Other board members echoed Campos’ sentiment and all endorsed the staggered balcony design. However, they did raise concerns about the privacy of the guest rooms, lack of parking and the layout and landscaping of the ground floor level. 

The ground floor is comprised of the lobby, vehicle guest drop-off area, linear circulation access drive and outdoor eating area along Colorado Avenue. While some amenities including the fitness and business centers will be below ground, no parking is proposed on-site.

“I’d like to see more landscaping for sure on the first level,” said board member Barbara Coffman. “With this one, because it’s so narrow, it’s difficult to do but I think to somehow get more landscaping would make it a much friendlier building.” 

The project will now proceed to the Planning Commission and if approved will return to the ARB for a final review.

“It’s an interesting sort of hotel and the quirkiness in response to the challenge of the site I really like, but I think there’s maybe a little more potential that could really make this spectacular architecturally,” Board member Craig Abbot Hamilton said.

grace@smdp.com