The City has decided once again to turn to the community for input on the Annenberg Community Beach Club project located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway.
The site, once the home of publisher William Randolph Hearst’s longtime mistress, actress Marion Davies, will be the first public beach club in the United States. Funding for the project is being made primarily through a $28 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, with additional funding coming from the City of Santa Monica and the federal government. The total project cost will be $34,570,000.
City Open Space Manager Callie Hurd described the goals for the project in a presentation to the community on November 3. They include preserving the history of the site, creating a community-oriented destination, providing public recreational activities, increasing public access to the beach, creating a range of uses, encouraging diverse users, providing year-round use, and linking the club to the regional park network. She reported that the construction of the project has already begun and is expected to be completed in the winter of 2009.
Hurd also described the general site parameters. They included closing the club at dusk except for booked events, year-round security coverage at night, prioritizing community-oriented programs and recreation during the high season, allowing outdoor amplified music only for daytime City-sponsored events, limiting sit-down food service for private events to 2,000-square-feet, and allowing the booking of events during non-peak periods.
The amenities of the club were developed through a community input process and will include a restored, historic swimming pool, changing and locker rooms, volleyball and paddle tennis courts, a snack bar, a 100-person public use event room, and a restored North House.
Input from the residents focused on suggesting activities and ways to operate the club during both the high and low season. City officials stated that the high season will be from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Many residents think the club will be a magnet for families, tourists, school and church groups, and summer camps during the high season and that reservations might be necessary to avoid overcrowding of its facilities. Residents requested such amenities as chair, umbrella, and boogie board rentals, bike parking, food lockers outside the pool area, Wi-Fi, sand toys, and a marquee listing of daily activities.
During the low season, community members believe athletes, seniors, and those wishing to have meetings will utilize the club. They also think the low season would be the right time to have regularly scheduled activities like yoga classes, cultural activities, catered events, and movies.
Program suggestions for both seasons included teen activities, educational programs, and outdoor movies. Residents also recommended that the club operate year-round in a sustainable manner with the priority of having zero waste. Lastly, the community suggested having silent movies, a costume ball, and period music as a way to celebrate the site’s history.
Newspaper mogul Hearst built the five-acre beachfront estate in the late 1920s for Davies. Designed by architect Julia Morgan, who also designed San Simeon for Hearst, the estate had more than 100 rooms, a large and lavish main house, guesthouses, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a dog kennel. Some of the original buildings, including the main house, were demolished in the 1940s, when the property was converted into a hotel. A locker building and cabanas were added.
In 1959, the State of California assumed ownership of the property and assigned its management to the City of Santa Monica. From 1960 to 1990, the Sand and Sea Club leased it, and from 1991 to 1993 it was operated by the City of Santa Monica. Damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it was shut down, and has remained shuttered for over 10 years.
More information on the project can be found on the web at 415pch.smgov.net.