The Urban Land Institute (ULI) announced on Friday that Ocean Avenue South, a residential mixed-use, mixed-income development, was one of 11 real estate development projects from around the world selected as winners in the ULI 2016 Global Awards for Excellence program. This year’s winners—representing projects in Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America—were honored at the ULI fall meeting in Dallas, Texas. California’s Ocean Avenue South is the only development in the Greater Los Angeles area to win the 2016 award.
Ironically, the award announcement came a week and a half before Santa Monica voters will decide whether or not to make developments such as this project more difficult, if not impossible, to build. Because the project involved a “land swap” and use of the city’s redevelopment funds, the project would have had to go to a public for a vote under the draconian standards of Measure LV, which Santa Monicans will vote on this November. Whether or not the development team would have gone forward with such a project if Measure LV — or a similar measure — had already been in place is not known.
Politics aside, Santa Monica is celebrating this win.
“We are proud that Ocean Avenue South, with more than half of its homes affordable to low- and moderate-income families, is the only Los Angeles-area property to receive the prestigious global award,” said Andy Agle, Director of the City’s Housing and Economic Development Department. “Through the public-private partnership with Related California and Community Corporation of Santa Monica, 160 families have a place to call home that is affordable and part of a beautiful and vibrant project.”
Ocean Avenue South is a residential mixed-use, mixed-income development which connects Santa Monica’s civic center to its vibrant downtown, beachfront and Main Street retail landmarks. The ULI was particularly impressed with the process that created Ocean Avenue South project, noting:
As part of an extensive community planning process for Santa Monica’s Civic Center, Ocean Avenue South is a model for high density urban master planned public-private development focused around public access and connectivity, to create a sense of a real neighborhood.
More than half of the residences at Ocean Avenue South, a total of 160, are dedicated affordable homes, making it the largest affordable housing community supported by City financing. The property brings a diversity of uses to the former site of the RAND Corporation headquarters, including gardens, 20,000-square feet of retail and restaurant space, as well as a pedestrian walkway connecting Main Street to Ocean Avenue.
“The ULI Global Award is a tremendous honor. We are grateful and thankful to the City of Santa Monica for granting us the opportunity to work with them on this redevelopment effort,” said Bill Witte, Related California Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that our partnership is a workable model for other municipalities to provide both needed affordable housing and a vital economic stimulus for the neighborhood.”
Ocean Avenue South represents one of the last affordable communities supported by the former Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency. Until 2012, the agency provided the bulk of local funding for affordable housing in Santa Monica. The State of California eliminated all local redevelopment agencies in 2012. Communities throughout the state, including Santa Monica, are now struggling with how to promote community diversity in light of significantly diminished resources for affordable housing.
“The Global Awards for Excellence showcase efforts that have both succeeded in pushing ingenuity and exemplifying best practices in land use across the globe,” said Patrick L. Phillips, ULI global chief executive officer. “This year’s winners have demonstrated a committed contribution to responsible real estate development and a dedication to building thriving, livable communities.”
The awards competition, now in its 38th year, recognizes real estate developments that achieve a high standard of excellence in design, construction, economics, planning, and management. The program, open to all and not limited to ULI members, is viewed as the centerpiece of the Institute’s efforts to identify and promote best practices in all types of real estate development.
The development includes 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 79,714 sq. ft. of open space and landscaping, 348,480 sq. ft. of civic space, 160 affordable apartments, and 158 luxury condominiums.