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Parking Structure 3's Long and Winding Road to Demolition
By Jorge Casuso
March 4, 2022 -- More than 12 years after the City of Santa Monica triggered a plan to tear down and rebuild Parking Structure 3, the demo crews are set to finally begin rolling in.
The City's contractor, AMPCO Inc., will begin "mobilization activities" Wednesday that include "delivering equipment, isolating utilities and installing scaffolding," City officials said Friday.
The demolition will start on Monday, March 14 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and should be completed by the fall, officials said.
"During demolition, the sidewalk on 4th Street will remain open to pedestrians with an overhead cover and southbound traffic on 4th Street may be temporarily reduced to one lane," officials said in a statement.
After receiving a demolition permit from the California Coastal Commission last May and awarding a $2.5 million demolition contract to AMPCO two months later, plans to tear down the 66-year old structure got snagged in Court.
Demolition schedules were set, only to be halted by a long-shot lawsuit filed by Downtown Property owners, who argued the area cannot afford to lose 337 parking spaces and that the Coastal Commission did not meet the legal requirement when it granted the permit.
The legal battle ended Wednesday when a Court of Appeals declined to take up the case, freeing the City to begin tearing down the structure ("Appeals Court Won't Hear Parking Structure Case, Paving Way for Demolition," March 3, 2022).
During the road to demolition, plans shifted from building a new, larger structure on the site, to scrapping the parking and building a state-of the art movie complex, to the current plan to build a housing development for the homeless
Plans to tear down the structure were laid out in the City’s $180 million Downtown parking plan approved in 2006, which called for tearing down and rebuilding the three smaller public parking structures.
In Summer 2009, the Council took a major step toward that goal by approving the process of tearing down and rebuilding the three structures.
But as City officials recalculated the area's parking needs, plans to replace Structure 3 at 1320 4th Street with a taller structure that could house 560 parking spaces were reevaluated.
Instead, City officials began exploring building a state-of-the-art movie theater that would reinvigorate Santa Monica's moribund movie scene.
In April 2010, the developer, Macerich G3, LLC, unveiled plans for a four-story, 100,000-square-foot development at the site that included restaurants and retail and a 12-to-16 screen movie theater ("Movie Theater Proposal Set for Initial Public Review," April 6, 2010).
By the time the structure was slated to go down in April 2013, negotiations were unraveling and in late June, Macerich pulled out over issues of profitability, according to City officials.
The structure would remain standing for nearly a decade and, in the meantime, plans for the site would radically change.
In July 2017 the City Council voted to require up to 30 percent of all new multi-family housing Downtown be designated affordable ("Santa Monica Council Sets Highest Affordable Housing Requirement in State for Downtown," July 27, 2017).
In 2019, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued to develop affordable housing on the site, and last October, the City included it in its Housing Element Update as one of the potential City-owned properties needed to build the 6,168 affordable units mandated by the State ("Council Cautiously Approves Housing Plan," October 13, 2021).
In January, the City Council voted to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with EAH, Inc. to build housing targeted for homeless individuals on the City owned parcel.
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