Council to Continue Negotiations for Proposed Plaza at Santa Monica with New Priorities
July 29, 2020 10:40 AM
At its July 28, 2020 meeting, the Santa Monica City Council voted to continue negotiations with Clarett West Development, LLC, and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, LLC to develop a 2.57-acre City-owned property bounded by 4th Street, 5th Street, and Arizona Avenue. The proposed project, The Plaza at Santa Monica, is the product of a competitive process initiated by the City in 2013.
Council’s action last night does not constitute final approval of the proposed project, but it allows staff to continue negotiations. As currently proposed, the Plaza at Santa Monica would provide community benefits including the following:
- 42,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, including a main plaza area for a seasonal ice-skating rink and other programming, an amphitheater, a second-floor urban garden, a dog park, and a public observation deck;
- 48 on-site affordable residences or a monetary contribution of $24 million to be used for construction of up to 130 off-site affordable residences;
- 12,000 square feet of cultural space;
- A Mobility Hub with 476 bike parking spots and 1,970 square feet of programmable space for bike retail and repairs; and
- 192 public and 513 private parking spaces.
At its meeting, Council directed staff to adjust priorities in the negotiations to reflect new input received from the public, as well as impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, City revenues, and community needs. Council specifically directed staff to maximize the public benefits obtained, with a focus on funding affordable housing in Santa Monica and creating vibrant and active public spaces accessible to all members of the public. Council also instructed staff to negotiate local hire terms as well as terms relating to continued partnership in the project throughout construction and profit participation for the City should the developer ever release its interest in the property to another entity.
The next step is for City staff to negotiate to align the project scope with revised Council direction regarding public objectives. The final project would be heard by the Planning Commission and approved by the City Council in approximately 2022. Under current timelines, the project, if approved, would open in approximately 2025.
In January 2020, staff proactively requested that the California Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) review the project in light of expanded requirements under the Surplus Land Act, a state law that incentivizes the use of public property for affordable housing and other process. Although HCD’s initial guidance indicated that the Act could apply, HCD later provided supplemental guidance in March 2020 that the project qualified for an exemption from the Act. The developer has stated that it will indemnify the City in the face of any legal challenge to the decision to continue negotiations.
For more background on this project, review the Staff Report.