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The Colorado Esplanade redevelopment project will be scaled down, as the project budget needs to be reduced following the revocation of the Redevelopment Agency earlier this year.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
The Colorado Esplanade redevelopment project will be scaled down, as the project budget needs to be reduced following the revocation of the Redevelopment Agency earlier this year.

News, Planning Commission, Development, Santa Monica

Colorado Esplanade Redevelopment Project To Scale Back

Posted Jun. 11, 2012, 1:48 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

One of Santa Monica’s most ambitious redevelopment projects may have to be a little less ambitious, as the Planning Commission considered an altered Colorado Esplanade on Wednesday night that could save City Hall millions of dollars.

Though Planning Commissioners did not vote on the issue, City Hall has put into motion a discussion of how to develop a potentially iconic project without having to break the bank.

City Hall can thank the revocation of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding earlier this year for having to consider scaling down the Colorado Esplanade.

“Due to the challenges of budget changes and many competing CIP projects, the project budget was reduced,” a staff report to commissioners stated. “City staff and the design team have been evaluating cost savings and funding strategies that will allow the Colorado Esplanade to be constructed to address the critical circulation and mode balance changes that accommodate the Expo Light Rail and meet the expectations of the community and stakeholders without compromising the quality of iconic place-making.”

“It is a refinement” of the original plan, Principal Planner Sarah Lejeune added.

Prior to Gov. Jerry Brown’s successful campaign in eliminating the RDA, City Hall had expected to be allocated $10 million in redevelopment money and an additional $3.3 million from a Metro grant to fund the Colorado Esplanade project.

Now that RDA funding has dried up, City Hall expects the Colorado Esplanade to be built at about half that price.

The project will still be able to move forward thanks to City Hall’s willingness to rely on some funds coming from its capital reserves.

Among some of the changes that could be made: altering the types of trees that are planted at and around the Colorado Esplanade. Commissioners were vocal about staff going through a deliberate process to decide what types of trees would ultimately reside in the area immediately surrounding the project.

Specifically, Commissioner Richard McKinnon said any tree that is ultimately chosen should complement the Moreton Bay Fig Tree that is by the Colorado Esplanade.

Commissioners were also concerned of potential renovations plans of the Holiday Inn on Colorado and Second Street and whether the Pier signage would be visible as future Expo Line riders exit the trains near the Esplanade.

Yet another issue: wayward finding.

Staff plans to present the Colorado Esplanade schematic plans to council members on July 10, where the project could be approved for construction. If City Hall’s current plans stick, the project may be complete by 2014; the Expo Line terminus at the Colorado Esplanade is expected to be complete by 2016.

The Colorado Esplanade is considered a priority project by City Hall, primarily because of its location adjacent to the final stop of the Expo Line. With hundreds of passengers expected to detrain at the Esplanade, City Hall wants the project to make a lasting impression on those who arrive into Santa Monica via train from Los Angeles and beyond.

Once complete, plenty of bicycles, pedestrians, public transit, and vehicular traffic will converge upon the Colorado Esplanade.

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Jun. 12, 2012, 6:41:18 pm

Jim Gerstley said...

I think there are several flaws in this plan. 1] I think a pedestrian 'scramble' will also be needed at Colorado and 2nd St; otherwise pedestrians and bicyclists will seriously impede cars trying to turn on/off Colorado. 2] I think 3 westbound lanes on Colorado at 2nd St are needed for a smooth flow of traffic: a left turn lane, a through lane, and a right lane for ingress/egress from Parking Structure 8, and right turn onto 2nd St. Otherwise cars going in and out of the parking structure will back up traffic., as will cars turning onto 2nd St if impeded by pedestrians and bicyclists. 3] I see no place for the city buses to park to meet the light rail trains, nor any discussion of the bus routing from there. It is vital that this be an integral part of the plan. 4] Side walk wave pattern may be confusing to the elderly and those with impaired eyesight as it may look like an uneven pavement; this may be even more true at night. This should be a consideration since the Ken Edwards center is nearby. 5] I'm concerned that the 'scramble' paving design shown on pg 20 at the intersection of Colorado and Ocean may be very confusing to drivers as they don't make sense. The lines from the Colorado left turn lane infer cars should turn into the left lane of Ocean. This can cause a traffic slowdown and even accidents. 6] How will the added burden on surrounding streets from car traffic that would normally move east on Colorado between Ocean, 2nd St and 4th St be handled?

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