Looking northeast from Lincoln Blvd with Bay Cities Deli and the Broadway intersection to the left Credit: Ottinger Architects

Back in January, we reported the Vons grocery store had begun the process of closing down and then demolition finally began a few weeks later in March and everyone had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, it’s safe to say that no one, or at least very few, expected four large-scale demolition and construction projects to be simultaneously undertaken, all within a two block radius of the former Vons site at 710 Broadway.

The first of the three additional projects is directly opposite the 710 Broadway site, adjacent to the entrance to the Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery parking lot, at 1527 Lincoln Blvd. The next is just around the corner and behind the Von’s site, at 711 Colorado Ave and finally the last new development is at 1430 Lincoln Blvd, the parking lot that many of us went to buy Christmas trees last December, next to Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies.

Many residents, local business owners and commuters were understandably concerned that Lincoln Blvd would quickly get clogged up with heavy vehicles and trucks and while the project at 710 has instead — and very wisely — used 7th Street as a point of access and exit, that is now no longer the only site requiring heavy duty equipment. Last week, as work got underway at the 1527 Lincoln Blvd location, those heavy haul trucks were indeed quickly clogging up that busy intersection of Broadway and Lincoln Blvd.

But it doesn’t end there. Naturally, given its position the 1527 Lincoln Blvd project will also require access via that busiest of automotive arteries, but earth moving vehicles now, not only regularly fill the length of 7th Street from Olympic Blvd to the Vons site, but now they also queue up along Colorado Ave, often stretching back northeast across the Lincoln intersection to service the project at 711 Colorado.

710 Broadway

This is the mother of all construction projects currently in progress in the city of Santa Monica and a glance into the giant pit that now sits where Vons grocery store once stood makes you wonder how long it will be before they reach Australia.

The new project is a 280-unit apartment complex, 30 percent of which will apparently be reserved for low and middle-income households. The space will incorporate a new 53,500 sq ft Vons superstore on the ground floor with 1,500 sq ft of outdoor dining space plus an additional 34,000 sq ft of combined retail, restaurant and fitness use. It also includes two subterranean levels to accommodate 354 vehicle parking spaces and 523 spaces for bicycles.

711 Colorado Ave

This is the project adjacent to the relatively new NMS Lincoln Santa Monica Apartments, along Colorado Ave and is on the right hand side almost immediately as you cross over the Lincoln Blvd intersection. According to information available online, the project will be a seven story mixed use site measuring 48,000 sq ft in total size and offers a combination of 56 residential units and 2,400 sq ft of retail and restaurant space.

Looking due west with Colorado Ave running to the left and to the right Credit: Scott Snowden/KFA

Additionally, the blurb on the architect’s site suggests that the project has been sensitively designed to include many amenities including a community courtyard for gathering, as well as a rooftop deck with ocean views and shuffleboard.

1430 Lincoln Blvd

This is arguably the most modest of these four construction projects. According to the construction management company, “This mixed-use community, with a design inspired by the Bauhaus school of the early 20th century, combines high-end apartments with engaging shops and cafes.”

The five-story mid-rise building on a 1.5-acre parcel will contain a total of 97 units: 12 studios, 49 one-bedrooms, 17 two-bedrooms, 16 three-bedrooms and three two-bedroom townhomes. Construction is type III over type I (wood frame on concrete podium) and a subterranean garage will have space for 295 cars and 180 bicycles.

1527 Lincoln Blvd

While the dirt, dust and disruption of any sizable construction project is almost invariably a spectacular inconvenience, this will actually significantly improve this section of Lincoln Blvd, largely because the buildings on this site had been disused for some time.

Directly facing both the 710 Broadway/Vons site and new NMS Lincoln Santa Monica Apartments, this will be a five-story edifice featuring 114 studio, one, two, and three-bedroom residences atop 8,840 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and subterranean parking for 100 vehicles. The project from Cypress Equity Investments will include eight on-site affordable units, but none of these four projects are part of the Builder’s Remedy.

Designed by Ottinger Architects, the exterior will be of a contemporary design, composed of wood panels, fiber cement panels, metal and plaster, with the two structures interconnected by a rooftop deck, with courtyard spaces located at street level.

According to a city Architectural Review Board staff report from October of last year, “The contemporary design is conceived as solid forms with punched openings, recessed balconies, chamfers, and cuts that give the project a sculptural quality.

“The linear court extends from Lincoln Boulevard to the rear alley, breaking the development into two distinct forms as viewed from the street. The angled and chamfered building facade along Lincoln Boulevard provides movement to the building, and the screen at the south facade enhances this sensibility within a lighter framework.”

Dirt, dust and disruption

While the Santa Monica of tomorrow might look nice and bright, the city of today is a little bit dusty as many residents currently living in apartments around the Lincoln/Broadway intersection and along 7th Street face constant construction work throughout the day.

A fleet of empty, articulated trucks wait their turn to enter the 710 Broadway site, along 7th Street Credit: Scott Snowden

Lawrence Elliot, who lives on 7th Street and works from home says that despite his best efforts, dust is still getting into his apartment. “A lot of the trucks are not covered, so the dirt gets out. And then they have the machines come in to clean, but they don’t really clean, they just push the dust off to the side.”

Elliot suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and he says, “Most of the time I have an air filter on and my windows closed, but it’s starting to get warm now. And there’s the noise. The noise level is another huge problem.”

Another resident of the area, Adrian Bailey says that he received no notification of any kind from council regarding the scale of disruption that was imminent. “For me, the noise has been unbearable, non-stop jackhammers throughout the day. I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to start until 8 o’clock, but sometimes the noise starts at about 7:30 in the morning,” Bailey says.

And congestion doesn’t improve on the other side of 7th Street as even more trucks wait their turn Credit: Scott Snowden

Each of these projects is expected to take years to complete, with estimates of the earliest completion times being approximately two years. And while the expected wet winter will offer much relief, we have the summer to survive first and the amount of dust and dirt in the air will be difficult, if not impossible, to regulate.

If you are showing any signs whatsoever of respiratory difficulty as a result of being in constant, close proximity to any of these construction sites, please seek medical advice. Then, once you’ve got that all safely sorted, reach out to us at the Daily Press and share your story.


Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.