Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously voted to delay its decision on a mixed-use building project being proposed for 2923 Wilshire Boulevard (the current site of Jerry’s Liquor Store and a surface parking lot) due to concerns about its Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The developer, Wilshire Structures, LLC, would like to build a four-story mixed use building that would include 11,595 square feet of specialty market retail space on the ground floor, 26 apartments on the remaining three floors, and 100 automobile parking spaces in two levels of subterranean parking. The apartments will range in size from one to three bedrooms. The developer is also striving to obtain a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building rating of silver.
Two traffic impacts were found to be significant and unavoidable in the project’s EIR. The locations of these impacts that cannot be mitigated were the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Stanford Street and the segment of Berkeley Street between Lipton Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. The project is projected to generate at least 640 car trips daily.
Almost all those who spoke at the meeting were opposed to the project because of the way it would heavily impact traffic and parking in the surrounding neighborhood. Stanford Street resident Vicki Nemeyer noted that those going north from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue already heavily travel her street. She stressed that the project would only add to that traffic.
Berkeley resident Nick Gardener told the Commission the 100 proposed parking spots would be inadequate for the “project’s employees, retai patrons, tenants and guests” so therefore it would be “putting enormous additional pressure on our streets day and night.” He stressed that the surrounding neighborhood streets are already suffering from insufficient parking.
Another Stanford Street resident, Eric Besson, stated that the proposed project was not compatible with the guidelines of the City’s Draft Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE). He specifically referred to the areas where the guidelines call for the “protection and preservation of residential neighborhoods” and that development should “provide a respectful transition between new commercial corridors and existing residential neighborhoods.”
Berkeley resident Louisa Fish “hoped there was a way to make this project work” because it included rental housing units and easy access to buses traveling on Wilshire Boulevard.
The Commission decided to delay its decision because it was unhappy with the feasibility portion of the EIR study. Commissioners felt additional analysis was needed on the rental rates for the project’s apartment units and they also wanted an analysis of the impact of having a smaller retail space on the ground floor.
Commission members also praised the project. Commissioner Jim Reis said it was “consistent with the LUCE objectives.” It pointed out the project would create a complete neighborhood because it contained neighborhood-serving retail people could walk to. In addition, it provides needed housing, and mixed-use along transit corridors “which takes development pressures off of residential neighborhoods.”
The Commission also made a variety of suggestions to improve the project.
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