A massive new development is envisioned for Downtown Santa Monica with 570 housing units proposed for construction on what is now commercial property.

A massive new development is envisioned for Downtown Santa Monica with 570 housing units proposed for construction on what is now commercial property.

At their Tuesday meeting, Council will consider an exclusive negotiating agreement with a group of housing providers for a bundle of lots on 5th Street between Olympic and Colorado as part of a Surplus Land Act sale. If approved, the deal would replace two commercial office buildings and one parking lot with a large housing development that would include affordable and market rate units.

The potential sale is a result of the City declaring several parcels of land as “surplus” in October of last year including a building on 5th Street and an adjacent parking lot. The City land in question covers a now vacant office building at 1632 5th St. and the Expo Kiss & Ride lot that sits between the office building and 4th Street.

The Surplus Land Act requires municipalities to give priority to specific uses including affordable housing and as a result of the declaration, 11 organizations expressed interest in the property. Of those, nine required financial assistance from the city but only four offered to develop the entire property. AMCAL and Cypress Equity were the only two organizations who wanted to develop the entire site without government subsidy but Cypress Equity was eliminated from contention after reducing their purchase offer to account for building a minimum amount of affordable housing units on the property.

AMCAL envisions purchase of the entire block of property, including the City’s parcels and a privately owned building located at 1640 5th Street (the Daily Press currently rents office space in the privately owned building).

“Preliminary design concepts contemplate approximately 570 housing units (the final unit count is subject to additional feasibility analysis and negotiations) on the assemblage site, with the market rate housing component developed by Lincoln Properties and the affordable housing component developed by AMCAL,” said the staff report.

Entering into an exclusive agreement doesn’t guarantee a sale but it does preclude negotiations with any other developers while the two sides conduct due diligence on the sale.

The developer would be required to present designs to the city before any sale becomes final.

“Before a design is finalized, the development concept would be presented for community and stakeholder input for a period consistent with the City’s affordable housing notification and engagement process for affordable housing projects,” said the staff report.

That process would require several public meetings and in the meantime, the developer will be required to pay for some of the City’s costs associated with the process.

Terms of the sale are not yet public.

“Once the community outreach and design process are completed, and all the requirements of the ENA have been met, staff would return to Council to present the final proposed development design and financial terms for Council’s consideration and approval with the request for the City Manager to negotiate and enter into a Development and Disposition Agreement for the sale of the Property,” said the staff report.

Council will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in City Hall, 1685 Main Street. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...