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Slow-Growth Watchdog Group Asks for Changes to Miramar Hotel Redevelopment

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

August 27., 2020 -- One week before the Miramar Hotel redevelopment gets its first major hearing, a prominent slow-growth watchdog group announced it is opposing the current proposal.

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) on Wednesday urged the Planning Commission to recommend that the developer redesign the project to address circulation issues and remove luxury condo units on the top floor.

The short letter -- a little longer than a page -- notes that "the huge new building" designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli would double the size of the existing 1920s oceanfront structure in the city's Downtown.

The proposed design of the 130-foot tall project "walls itself off from its surroundings except on Ocean Avenue" and would create "a plethora of serious, unresolved traffic circulation issues for the entire surrounding neighborhood."

These issues, the Coalition leaders wrote, were not "studied appropriately" in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

"Keeping the new hotel’s main entrance on Wilshire wasn’t even studied although residents repeatedly asked that it be included as a better alternative to a 2nd Street main entrance," the letter said.

"The EIR does, however, disclose the painful level of circulation problems that would exist for the surrounding streets, including Ocean, California, and 2nd Street if the project were to be approved as is."

The proposed 502,157-square-foot project also would increase "usage of water and power, both of which are already in short supply," according to the letter.

The developer, MSD Capital, said water and energy "conservation measures" would result in a decrease from current usage.

SMCLC's opposition focuses on the proposal to build 60 large condo units totaling 195,000 square feet on the upper floor of the new structure.

"Ultra luxury condos for transient owners/renters may be a financing tool for the hotel, but they aren’t a community benefit," the Coalition wrote.

"Their occupants aren’t likely to live here or be stakeholders in our community. The condos contribute greatly to the bulk of the hotel and its height."

The proposed condos are in reality "giant hotel rooms" that won't generate much-needed revenues for the City in the form of bed taxes, the letter said.

"Supporting them would be supporting a tax dodge at a time when our City greatly needs to shore up its finances," the Coalition wrote.

The developer has said the project -- which includes 42 affordable housing units across 2nd Street -- is not financially feasible without the condo units.

The Miramar redevelopment is one of three major Downtown developments on special sites that can have maximum heights of 130 feet, under the Downtown Community Plan approved by the City Council three years ago,

The Coalition's letter comes as the group prepares to file a lawsuit to halt the proposed "Plaza" mixed-use hotel development on City owned land Downtown.

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