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Revised Gehry Hotel Mixed-Use Project Goes Back to Planning Commission


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 1, 2018 -- Shorter and minus the original luxury condominiums, Frank Gehry’s 12-story hotel-mixed use project overlooking the Pacific in Santa Monica goes back to the City’s Planning Commission on Wednesday.

Gehry’s Ocean Avenue Project stretches 82,500 square feet along Santa Monica Boulevard, and is one of three proposed developments in downtown that has raised the ire of the City’s slow-growth movement because of size, potential for traffic and proximity to the ocean.

Wednesday’s commission meeting is at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 1685 Main Street.

Originally unveiled in 2013, the two-acre project reached 244 feet in height ("New Gehry Building Planned in Downtown Santa Monica," March 1, 2013).

Gehry Hotel original version
Original version of Gehry designed hotel (Renderings courtesy Gehry Partners, LLP)

The origical plans included 22 condos along with 79 rental units and 125 hotel rooms, as well as space for restaurants, retail and a museum while maintaining two landmarked buildings.

In its revised blueprints, the biggest changes include capping the height of 130 feet, as now required by the Downtown Community Plan, eliminating the luxury condos and scaling back to 115 hotel rooms.

Under the plan, 19 new rent-controlled units will replace existing on-site units. Another 42 units will be market rate and 18 set aside as “affordable” to lower-income earners.

The float-up of the revised project asks the commission to provide preliminary feedback. The final decision on granting a Development Agreement (DA) is to be made by the City Council.

Revised version of Gehry design
Revised version of Gehry design

Gehry’s project is one of three sites downtown set aside for special zoning that requires a DA -- individually negotiated agreements for large projects to provide “community benefits.”

These benefits can include public open space, affordable housing, mobility/circulation plans, cultural institutions and historic preservation.

Members of the City’s Architectural Review Board, which held a second preliminary concept review in February, “strongly support the preliminary project design,” the commission’s report said.

In all, the project is about 317,500 gross square feet. Of that, 141,500 square feet is devoted to a hotel and 91,000 square feet for apartments.

Retail/Restaurant space would take up 24,000 square feet, while 49,000 square feet would be used for a museum, restored Landmark buildings and a roof-top observation deck accessible to the public.

Ground level of Gehry designed hotel
Ground level of Gehry designed hotel

The Gehry designed project s the first of three major developments downtown to re-emerge after the Downtown Plan's approval.

Also in the wings is the “Plaza at Santa Monica,” a 12-story hotel/mixed-use project on City-owned land at Arizona and 4th/5th; and the redevelopment and expansion of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

Those plans, which started out with a 21-story tower, also were scaled back to a maximum of 130 feet in height to conform with the plan ("Plaza at Santa Monica' Project Scaled Back," February 8, 2017 and "New Miramar Hotel Design Embraces Past, Present and Future of Santa Monica, Developers Say," April 12, 2018).


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