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Santa Monica’s New City Center

At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council will make an important decision about a major project that will transform Downtown Santa Monica for decades to come.

A view from the street of the proposed Plaza at Santa Monica.
A view from the street of the proposed Plaza at Santa Monica.

The Plaza at Santa Monica, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA, would turn a 2.5 acre plot of City-owned land a block east of Santa Monica’s bustling 3rd Street Promenade, currently home to a surface parking and a couple of banks, into a vibrant city center with affordable housing, a children’s museum, public open space (with money to program it), a bike center, a union hotel, and a litany of other public benefits.

The project, which would be built walking distance from Downtown Santa Monica’s transit hubs, would also add about $6 million a year to City revenues.

Tomorrow, the City Council will consider whether to have the project’s team, led by local developer Metropolitan Pacific Capital, move forward with the original 148-foot (about 12 stories) design or a revised 84-foot plan, designed to keep the project within Santa Monica’s 30-year-old zoning standards.

While the 148-foot design enjoys the support of many, including UNITE HERE Local 11, the powerful regional hospitality workers’ union, local anti-development activists have come out in opposition to the taller project, even threatening a referendum should the taller project go forward.

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While the designs differ by only 64 feet, there are major trade-offs that would need to happen in order to keep the project at 84 feet.

At 148 feet, the building would have a 225-room boutique hotel. The shorter version would have a hotel, but with about 90 fewer rooms, and, as a result, fewer union jobs.

In addition to losing hotel space, the shorter version also has half the amount of housing, all of which would be affordable units managed by the non-profit Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s single-largest producer of affordable housing.

Under the 148-foot plans, the project would have 48 affordable units compared to 24 units in the 84-foot plans. And, the amount of public open space would shrink from 43,650 square feet to 22,384 square feet.

When: Tuesday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 1685 Main Street
What: If you want to make sure that your voice is heard, contact your City Council members or show up to speak at the Tuesday meeting.

The Santa Monica Festival

On Saturday, June 14, Santa Monica will hold its namesake festival in Clover Park.

The 23rd annual Santa Monica Festival “will showcase sustainable living and culture through an array of free, family-friendly activities and performances, including art workshops, music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations, fitness classes, and more,” according to City officials.

Santa Monica Spoke will be there, putting on its fourth bike exhibition. There will also be a free bike rodeo (a training and skills course for children) and an expanded bike zone, according to Spoke.

“The Bike Exhibition will demonstrate the wonderful versatility of the bicycle and how it can enhance our lives as a healthy, sustainable part of our city and the environment,” Spoke Director Cynthia Rose wrote on the group’s website.

There will also live music, arts and crafts, a new pop-up playground for the kids, and food.

When: Saturday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Boulevard

For more information and a schedule of events, visit smgov.org.