Hines, an international real estate firm, has conceptual plans on the table to develop 1681 26th Street, the former Papermate site.
Colin Shepard, Hines’ Senior Vice President, discussed the project at a community meeting on December 15 at Virginia Avenue Park. At this time his firm is working with the City on a Development Agreement (DA). A DA is agreed to by Santa Monica and a developer when the developer offers the City public benefits in exchange for being permitted to develop their project with parameters (such as height) that are outside of the City’s zoning standards.
Santa Monica’s Director of Planning and Community Development, Eileen Fogarty, explained that the next step after this meeting would be for the City’s Planning Commission and City Council to decide whether they want to work with Hines on a DA. She and her staff also explained that they have been working with Hines to ensure that their project complies with many of the elements described for new projects in the City’s updated Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).
Shepard described Bergamot Village as a project that would contain affordable workforce housing and give priority to first responders such as teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen, and other community serving employees. Neighborhood serving retail services will also be included as well as connectivity throughout the site to the future Bergamot Light Rail station. Shepard emphasized that the “objective is to create uses that will be directly related to the light rail.”
Also part of the project would be walkable plazas with seating and green spaces. These spaces could be used for public gatherings and the arts and would include an amphitheater that could be used by the Pico Youth and Family Center, the School District or others. The seven-acre site would also contain four passageways to increase its permeability and connection to the street grid. Three of the passages would be suitable for bicycles and pedestrians and one would be dedicated to vehicles.
Hines mentioned that the average height of the proposed project would be 71 feet with the highest point being 81 feet (6 floors high). He also noted the project would contain many sustainable features and be LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) pre-certified.
Lastly, Shepard stated his firm has hired a traffic consultant to develop a plan to reduce car trips from the project. Their proposed Traffic Demand Management (TDM) program could reduce trips as much as 66 percent below what the trips would be if the original site was used with no additional development.
The community’s main concern about the project was how much traffic the new project will generate. Former City Council member Paul Rosenstein stated, “Yale Street will be destined for a lot of traffic from this project and the other three projects on the drawing board for Colorado” because of the traffic signals on Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. People will be using this route to go to the 405 freeway.
Liz Cane also discussed traffic impacts by noting, “during construction you are going to have all kinds of detours and the traffic is going to be a madhouse. It already is at 5 o’clock”. You can see that by standing at any of the corners that surround this project during the early evening rush hour. “I don’t see how you can add more cars.”
Others expressed concern about how the residents were notified about the impending project. Rosenstein stated the residents who live north of Colorado should be notified. Linas Baskauskas called for the usual 500-foot notification to “be changed for a project of this scale.”
Land Use Consultant Howard Robinson spoke in favor of the project by stating, “If the goal of the LUCE is to help break up these large industrial blocks and to try to create a more livable, walkable and residential feel to the area then we need large significant projects like this that can afford to provide these community benefits.”
The Planning Commission review of the project will be on January 27.