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Fred Fisher To Restore 415 PCH: will lead design/build team

The restoration of the former Marion Davies estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway moved a step closer at last week’s City Council meeting when the Council took the staff recommendation to authorize the City Manager to “finalize negotiations and execute a design build contract for pre-construction services with Pankow Special Projects, for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse…in an amount not to exceed $3,000,000, including contingencies.”

At the same time, the Council appropriated $21,000,000 in grant funds received from Annenberg Foundation for the project.

The Santa Monica Beach is owned by the State of California and is maintained and operated by the City under a long-term agreement.

The five-acre historic 415 property is adjacent to the beach. In 1929, publisher William Randolph Hearst commissioned architect Julia Morgan to design an estate for his mistress, actress Marion Davies. With over 100 rooms in the main house and guest houses, a swimming pool, tennis courts, dog kennels and every conceivable luxury, it was the largest and most elaborate estate on what was then Santa Monica’s Gold Coast.

In 1957, Davies sold the estate, the main house was torn down, other buildings, including cabanas, were added, and it became a hotel. Subsequently, it was converted into the Sand and Sea Beach club.

In the late 1980s, restauranteur Michael McCarty proposed constructing a hotel on the site. The City approved his proposal, but residents countered with an initiative banning any additional hotels on the beach. After it passed, the City canceled the Sand and Sea lease and took control of the property, but before it determined what to do with the site, it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and shut down.

In 1998, a 415 working group produced a plan for the renovation of the site. It was approved by the City Council in 1999, but remained on the shelf.

Periodically, the City reported that it was unable to find funds to undertake the renovation. Then, in December, the City received a $21 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation to underwrite the restoration.

A notice asking for bids for design-build services for the 415 Pacific Coast Highway Project was published on February 10 and 12, in the Los Angeles Times and sent to over 90 design, engineering and construction firms.

According to a City staff report, “The scope of work contained in the Notice Inviting Bids required that each bid include an integrated team of architects, landscape architects and construction general contractors.

“The City received four design-build bids, one of which was determined to be non-responsive. A selection committee composed of staff from Environmental and Public Works Management, Community and Cultural Services and the Annenberg Foundation reviewed the bids and narrowed the field to two design-build teams which were interviewed by staff. In addition, the staff team visited projects completed by the finalists’ proposed teams.

“Staff has identified and is negotiating with the best bidder, Pankow Special Projects. The firm has completed a number of projects of greater magnitude and complexity. Its work includes projects involving historical elements, making the firm keenly familiar with the issues associated with preservation and restoration.

“Frederick Fisher and Partners, the team’s design architect, is an internationally recognized architecture firm based in West Los Angeles. This award winning firm specializes in art-related design, historic building rehabilitation and residential work. Its projects include the restoration of the A. Quincy Jones Studio, adaptive reuse of the Santa Monica Bay Telephone Company Building for the headquarters for the Broad Art Foundation, design of the Lois and Robert Erburu Gallery at the Huntington Library, Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, and the expansion of the Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, California,

“The design-build team also includes historic consultants, charrette consultants, structural, civil, mechanical, acoustical and electrical engineers, landscape architects and a public artist, selected through the City Art Commission’s peer review process.”

Once the contract is signed, “the team will begin the confirmation of the project program,” according to the City, “and prepare for the project’s community charrette process as approved by City Council in December 2004.

Before the project undergoes a formal design review by the appropriate boards and commissions and the Council, a multi-day community charrette will be held to enable residents to take part in the development of the schematic design.

In preparation for the charrette, staff and the consultant team will, in the words of the staff report, “refine the community use framework for the site in order to reflect the goals of the reuse plan and the Annenberg Foundation’s thinking regarding activities and patterns of use on the site during different seasons of the year. In order to meet key benchmarks outlined in the Grant Agreement with the Annenberg Foundation, it is anticipated that the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and an Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will be released this summer for public review and comment.”

If new environmental issues are raised, they will be addressed in accordance with CEQA and NEPA prior to Final EIR certification and EA approval.

The staff expects to return to Council next spring at the completion of the design development phase for approval of the proposed guaranteed maximum price and activation of the second phase of the design-build contract. Construction should begin in late 2006.

Funding for this contract is provided entirely by the Annenberg Foundation grant.The staff report was prepared by Craig Perkins, Director, Environmental and Public Works Management, Anthony Antich, P.E., City Engineer, Barbara Stinchfield, Director, Community and Cultural Services, Karen Ginsberg, Assistant Director, Community and Cultural Services, Jessica Cusick, Cultural Affairs Manager, and Lauren Friedman, City Architect.

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