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Santa Monica Landmark Courtyard Apartment Buildings Set for Formal Approval in Condominium Project


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 2, 2017 -- Three landmarked courtyard apartment buildings in one of Santa Monica’s most sough-after neighborhoods are expected to receive a final formal approval Wednesday as the site of a 12-unit condominium project that preserves a portion of the original 1936 construction.

The project on 423-429 Ocean Avenue is on the City Planning Commission’s agenda as under consideration for a statement of official action.

Approval paves the way for construction of three new buildings of two, three and four stories in a horse-shoe configuration around a landscaped courtyard. Parking will be underground.

Proposed Ocean Avenue Condominium
Proposed condominium project at 423-429 Ocean Avenue (Renderings courtesyAdele Chang/LCRA Architects)

As proposed, the project retains a “substantial portion” of the north and south buildings in place and the location’s courtyard setting, a report on the project said.

Two two-bedroom condos in the project are to be reserved as affordable housing for moderate-income earners, staff said.

A choice site in Santa Monica, the project would be along Ocean Avenue between Montana Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, and a short distance to both Wilshire Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway.

The project is about 30,228 square feet and is far less dense than the 25 units permitted for the 22,500-square-foot parcel by City law, the report by City planners said.

As proposed, heights of the new buildings range from two stories along Ocean Avenue -- to preserve the existing streetscape -- to four stories and 44’3” tall toward the rear of the parcel.

The project conforms to the City’s land-use overhaul (or the Land Use Circulation Element) because it supports a “healthy” diverse neighborhood” with a range of housing choices, while also preserving some of Santa Monica’s courtyard-apartment past, according to staff.

Built in the early decades of the 1900s and into the post-WWII era, courtyard and garden apartments were at one time a dominate force in the city’s housing stock.

Spacious and stylish -- yet boasting affordable rents -- they came to symbolize the popular image of Southern California as sun-lit and easy going.

The buildings slated to become condos are considered notable examples of the Colonial Revival architectural style popular for garden apartments.

The site was landmarked by the City in 2006. The owners appealed the decision but were unsuccessful.

In 2007, the owners of the apartments agreed to pay the Rent Control Board $100,000 after city attorneys discovered the Ellis Act had been violated ("Landlord Settles with Rent Board," December 19, 2007).

The law, adopted in 1985 by the State Legislature in reaction to local rent control laws, allows property owners to exit the rental business but puts restrictions on the future use of the property.

It was alleged that the owners pulled the units from the market in 2004, evicting tenants from four units, but then re-rented some units too soon.

S.M. Ocean Star denied the allegation but nonetheless settled the case.


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