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Santa Monica Council Approves Denny’s Replacement Project

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

October 15, 2015 -- In an act that several council members said was the beginning of transforming Santa Monica’s Lincoln Boulevard into a pedestrian friendly street, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a mixed-use development to replace a long-existing Denny’s.

The decision featured great enthusiasm among council members and limited criticism from some of the traditionally development-skeptical public speakers.

“By building housing along Lincoln, it will become much more active from a pedestrian perspective,” Council member Gleam Davis said. “I think that’s really what we want to have happen there.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez noted the project site off Colorado Avenue is next to the light rail line and near one of the stations currently under construction.

“This is where I think we need to start looking at housing, all along this transit corridor area,” Vazquez said. “There’s a real opportunity for a lot of the folks that move into these units to be car-less. And I think that’s something that we need to start supporting.”

The 102,500-square-foot project features two five-story structures separated by a 40-foot-wide paseo that stretches from Lincoln to an alley behind 7th Court. There are technically three sections of the development connected by bridges.

Included will be 100 residential units ranging from studios to three bedrooms, 14,000 square feet of commercial space and 232 parking spaces in a three-story subterranean garage.

Because the project does not comply with several zoning restrictions, owner NMS Properties needed to enter into a development agreement with the City. As with all such agreements, the developer had to offer community benefits.

This agreement’s community benefits include a requirement that 20 of the units be designated affordable; $2.3 million for various programs, including transportation, parks and recreation, affordable housing elsewhere in the city, early childhood initiatives and historic preservation; a community meeting space; a local hiring program and various environmental concessions.

NMS must also develop a marketing plan aimed at potential tenants who are Santa Monica first-responders, employees of local hospitals and healthcare providers, local school district workers and employees of nearby businesses.

For the first 90 days, marketing must be exclusively aimed at those people.

“In the extent that they’re able to get those people who don’t live in our city, but work here, to live here, it’s a substantial traffic reduction consequence from that action,” Council member Ted Winterer said.

Mayor Kevin McKeown said he was pleased that due to the use of modern technologies, the development will consume less water on a monthly basis than Denny’s does.

He said projects like these are needed in a state where water is becoming more scarce.

“We can’t refuse to house people because there’s a water shortage,” McKeown said. “But we can house them in a way that doesn’t consume more water.”

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