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Saga of Abandoned Santa Monica Building Finally Comes to an End


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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

November 8, 2018 -- An abandoned half-finished building near the eastern edge of Santa Monica that has spooked and rankled neighbors since the turn of the century will finally be torn down and replaced.

The Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Monday voted 7-0 to approve the new contemporary design for four townhouse style units at 3004 Broadway that will replace the long stalled project.

The vote seemingly puts an end to a construction nightmare that began in 1996 when the ARB approved the design for a four-unit senior housing project on the site of four single-family houses damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

3004 Broadway (Photo by Lookout Staff)

The approval triggered a long and winding path filled with bureaucratic snags and construction hitches that would last more than two decades ("After Nearly Two Decades Stalled Santa Monica Apartment Still Unfinished," May 7, 2014).

After the City issued a building permit in 1997, the basic structure was nearing completion when construction was delayed by disputes with the contractor, then by changes to the zoning code.

By early 2000, all work had come to a halt, and the unfinished structure was surrounded by construction fencing.

Since then, the Gothic-looking eyesore has sat abandoned, an aging skeletal frame clad in plywood and covered with peeling black tar paper.

Neighbors complained and citations were filed by the City, but inspectors found the structure was sound and properly secured and did not constitute a fire hazard.

Four years ago, the Planning Commission denied the applicant’s
Design and Compatibility Permit to allow several concessions.

The owner appealed, then withdrew the appeal when he learned from the City that the project qualifies for concessions under the State Density Bonus Law if it includes one low-income restricted unit.

By the time the ARB voted this week, it had become the longest-running construction project in a city known for its involved citizenry and slow-moving planning bureaucracy.

The building approved Monday "incorporates modulated forms, modern finishes, and varying colors to create shade, shadow and recesses to enhance the overall design and function of the building," according to staff.

It "utilizes simple, but high quality materials that reinforce the design concept," which "is consistent with the existing neighborhood context," staff said.

The proposed building, which faces Broadway, includes roof decks and patios and four at grade parking spaces accessible from the alley.

The ARB's approval can be appealed to the Planning Commission if the appeal is filed with the Zoning Administrator within ten consecutive days.


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