Plans to transform the former Papermate factory in Santa Monica’s formerly industrial Bergamot Area into a mixed-use neighborhood with offices across the street from the Expo light rail station on 26th Street were killed last year. The proposed Bergamot Transit Village failed after local no-growth groups Residocracy and Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) joined forces with Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR). You may recognize Residocracy as the group currently trying to gather support for a ballot initiative to require nearly all new projects in Santa Monica to require voter approval.
Together, they successfully gathered enough signatures to put the project on the ballot and potentially overturn Council’s approval of the project, which took some seven years to negotiate. In that process, the Council negotiated tens of millions of dollars in benefits to the community, including education funding, publicly accessible open space, and new roads to break up the property. Additionally, the project would have added a net gain of $420,000 to the city’s general fund.
The project died and a new owner took the former Papermate site over. The new plans at the site include simply converting the existing building into a suburban style office park called The Pen Factory. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what was proposed for the Bergamot Transit Village project and the plans for the new Pen Factory office park project that is going forward. Since the Pen Factory is a simple reoccupation of the existing building with minor additions, it does not require approval from the Council. – Jason