Ocean Avenue Project Designed by Architect Frank Gehry Moves Forward as Council Approves Development Agreement
July 15, 2022 11:16 AM
Last night, the Santa Monica City Council approved the Development Agreement for a mixed-use, LEED Platinum certified project at the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. The project is designed by world-renowned architect and Santa Monica resident Frank Gehry. It integrates iconic design and architecture, historic buildings, leading sustainability practices, a full-service hotel, world-class exhibitions and programs in a new space for cultural institutions, affordable and market rate housing, and a variety of publicly accessible spaces including a new pedestrian mall, expanded outdoor dining, and a rooftop observation deck that provides a 360° view of the Santa Monica Bay. The community benefits package has an estimated value of over $50 million, and addresses cultural facilities, historic preservation, sustainability, housing, and more.
“The Frank Gehry Project is unique, brings new amenities like a cultural institution to the Downtown, and will provide one-time funds to deliver City services including transportation infrastructure, parks, recreation programs, early childhood initiatives, affordable housing, economic opportunity initiatives, and more,” said City Manager David White.
The Ocean Avenue project will have significant impacts on the local economy including creating over 2,800 new jobs, $258.2 million in one-time economic outputs based on construction efforts, $59.8 million in annual economic outputs based on the annual operation of the onsite hotel, retail, and estimated household spending, and an estimated $6.2 million ($3.4 million net new) in annual fiscal impacts to the City’s General Fund to support City services. Key project components include:
- 120-room full-service hotel, including spa, meeting, and banquet space.
- 100 residential apartments including a mix of unit types (studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom):
- 25 deed-restricted affordable units
- 19 rent-controlled units, and
- 64 market-rate units.
- Approximately 35,500 square feet for a “Cultural Uses Campus” that includes a new museum building and the preservation, adaptive reuse, and on-site repositioning of two designated City Landmark Buildings.
- Approximately 36,100 square feet of retail, restaurant, and commercial space.
- Pedestrian-oriented ground level open spaces including a pedestrian mall.
- Approximately 5,000 square feet of publicly accessible rooftop observation deck.
- Up to 285 subterranean parking spaces (10% equipped with EV chargers) and 231 bicycle parking spaces.
This project will achieve LEED Platinum certification, use 100% Green Power, incorporate solar infrastructure and onsite facilities to capture and reuse rainwater, complies with Santa Monica’s water neutrality ordinance, will use 15% less energy than required by the 2019 California Energy Code (except for EV infrastructure) and includes a Marine Debris Reduction Program.
“This project has it all! A new museum, a full-service hotel, an observation deck with views of the Pacific, onsite affordable housing, and new places to eat, shop, and enjoy Santa Monica,” said Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “This project brings together historic and new architecture to create a very special place on Ocean Avenue.”
The City of Santa Monica has negotiated a community benefits package with an estimated value of $53.3M with a focus on cultural facilities, historic preservation, affordable housing, water and energy conservation, hiring local, one-time monetary contributions, and publicly accessible open space.
The developer is required to build, operate, and maintain a world-class museum that will expand Santa Monica’s arts and cultural offerings at an estimated value of $1.8 million annually. The world-class museum will be designed to attract and exhibit works of significant local, international, and established and emerging artists and architects, will showcase exclusive pieces from the archives of Frank Gehry for at least 15 years and will include associated educational and community programming. Santa Monica residents and youth will receive discounted admission and local schools will be able to visit the space free of charge through annual field trip opportunities. The rooftop observation deck will be available for use by Santa Monica-based non-profits for special events one evening a month.
The Development Agreement also requires the applicant to provide one-time monetary contributions totaling $6,065,000 including:
- $2,225,000 toward enhancing local transportation infrastructure
- $2,160,000 toward parks and recreation programs and projects
- $1,000,000 toward early childhood initiatives including toddler and pre-school tuition subsidies, family support and parent engagement strategies, home visitation and kindergarten readiness programs, and facility and playground improvements
- $400,000 toward affordable housing
- $250,000 toward equity and economic opportunity initiatives including seed funding to support local entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities and investment in related community partnerships and non-profit organizations
In addition to one-time monetary contributions, a $1 entrance fee will be charged to every rooftop visitor over 10 years old with 100% net income donated to the Santa Monica Education Foundation. The permit holder is also required to proactively outreach to women-, minority-, and locally- owned business enterprises when securing construction contractors, sub-contractors, vendors, and suppliers. During construction, residents currently living onsite in rent-controlled units will be moved to alternate residences at no cost. Rents will remain the same with the developer paying for any differences in rent. Once construction is complete, these residents will be offered housing in the new project with rents consistent with pre-construction rates.
Review Process and Next Steps
The project was informed by extensive community input. The proposed project is consistent with the City’s 2010 General Plan Land Use and Circulation Element and 2017 Downtown Community Plan. The project paid special attention to neighborhood character, connection to the bluffs and views of the bay, open space provided by Palisades Park, the two historic buildings on the property, and the new museum that will form the “cultural uses campus”. Integrating open and gathering spaces with the historic and new architecture was an important consideration including the preservation and adaptive reuse of two designated Landmark Buildings onsite.
Following the Council approval, the developer will seek approval by the California Coastal Commission and submit for design review by the City’s Architectural Review Board and Landmarks Commission. Submittal for building permit issuance will follow. Once construction begins, it is anticipated that the project be completed in three years. For more information, visit the City Planning Division’s project page.
Acting Public Information Officer
Arts, Culture & Fun, Council And Commissions, Historic Preservation, Housing