In an ongoing process to gain public approval, the updated concept plans for the Civic Center Village Residential Project were presented to the community. Opinions varied, with some residents very excited about the changes that had been made, while others still had concerns about the project’s impact on the City.
Eileen Fogerty, the City’s Director of Planning and Community Development, said that the mixed-use village would contain 325 residences, 11,900 square feet of neighborhood – serving retail, and 21,619 square feet of public open space. The sustainable design will also contain public art and a mixture of housing types, including market rate condos, affordable apartments, and artist live/work studios. The guiding values and development strategies used to develop the conceptual design were derived from the City’s Civic Center Specific Plan.
The changes reviewed by the community on November 29 were based on the input received from various City boards and commissions as well as the City Council. The latest plan has three tower elements with open space between them to improve views and have more light, rather than one solid building mass. The tower elements have stepped heights of 76 feet, 86 feet, and the project’s southwest corner is 96 feet in order to be more compatible with the height of the Viceroy Hotel. Other changes included reducing the number of parking access entries from two to just one at First Court, having pedestrian amenities such as a plaza and fountain instead of a continuous street front, and a revised landscape plan.
Joan Ling, executive director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica, which specializes in building affordable housing, explained that the proceeds from the sale of the market-rate units will be used to subsidize the construction of the 160 affordable units as well as the costs of some of the new, much needed infrastructure for the Civic Center area. In regards to the affordable housing, Ling said, “The rents for the affordable units would range from $500-$1,000 per month.”
Community members were very concerned about how the project would affect traffic in the surrounding area as well as what alternative modes of transportation other than the automobile would be available for the residents of the village. Another concern was whether the project will ultimately be compatible with the updated Land Use and Circulation Elements of the City’s General Plan.
Several residents were also upset because they were unable to receive answers on how much the market-rate units would sell for or how large they would be.
Suggestions from the community included having the village play areas accessible for handicapped children, including on-site after-school programs and community gardens, and having Flexcars accessible to project residents.
The updated plans will be reviewed by the City Council on December 11.
Members of the Village Developer-Design Team are the Related Companies of California, the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), Moore, Ruble, Yudell Architects and Planners, Koning Eizenberg Architecture, landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates and Hood Design, and public artists Catherine Wagner and Janet Zweig.