After a lengthy hearing, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission approved all the required documents to redevelop the Travelodge Hotel located at 1525 Ocean Avenue, the Pacific Sands Hotel located at 1515 Ocean Avenue, and its annex located at 1530 Second Street. The Travelodge Hotel project is owned by Ocean Avenue Management LLC.
The project is slated to be 89,900 square feet and four stories high (45 feet tall), with 164 guestrooms and a 296-space subterranean parking garage. The project will also contain approximately 3,190 square feet of ground floor commercial/retail use and a public plaza. According to City documents, the new Travelodge “will consist of two buildings [one on Ocean Avenue and one on Second Street] connected by three pedestrian bridges across the 1st Court alley.”
Public comment to the Commission at the March 19 meeting was mostly positive, particularly due to the affordable nature of the guestrooms. Resident Bruce Cameron noted that the project has real social equity benefit because it “provides affordable lodging that’s respectful for working class and middle class people so they can actually have ocean views” and walk to all of the services the City offers visitors.
Tony Lardas, whose family owns the newly-reopened McDonald’s restaurant on 2nd Street, voiced his support: “[This] redevelopment will revitalize the area on Ocean Avenue, but more importantly, it will benefit 2nd Street with more pedestrians.” He also mentioned it will help rid the area of drug dealing because for years drug dealers had been operating out of rooms they rented at the Pacific Sands Hotel.
Bob Ruth, owner of the property that is right behind where the proposed hotel will be built, made the only negative comments about the project. He claimed the project would “eliminate the property value [of 1522-1524 2nd Street] because we’re going to lose our natural light and we’re going to lose our view corridor.” In addition, the three pedestrian bridges are slated to be positioned near his building’s balcony. Ruth’s lawyer asked that the Commission’s hearing be continued so these issues could be worked out with Ocean Avenue Management LLC.
Like Ruth, Commission Chair Gwynne Pugh was also concerned about the three pedestrian bridges, but for a different reason. He asked that as part of the approval the three bridges be reduced to one because he wasn’t “comfortable with having such a large structure over public property.” City staff also supported having one bridge because it would have less impact on the view corridor and be less massive.
The next review of the project will be done by the City Council, and their review will be followed by reviews by the City’s Architectural Review Board and the Coastal Commission. The developer hopes to begin construction in the spring of 2009 and to have the project complete by the fall of 2010.