The Bergamot Station Arts Center is ready to make the jump from concept to reality, as council members on Tuesday approved City staff to issue Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop what is expected to be one of Santa Monica’s newest hotspots.
Three development teams will receive the RFPs, each presented with an opportunity to develop 5.6 acres of City-owned property. Once realized, the Bergamot Station Arts Center would be home to art galleries, eateries, hotels, and museum space. The area would also have built-in infrastructure to support the planned Expo Light Rail, which is expected to have a stop there once the line is completed in 2016.
According to City Hall, the development must ultimately support the arts, deliver a transit-oriented development, and maximize revenue for the Big Blue Bus operations.
“The concept emphasizes retaining the concentration of art galleries and other art uses, providing space for a museum, creating revenue-producing and visitor-serving uses, including a hotel and restaurants/bars, and delivering infrastructure improvements to compliment the arts center and new Expo station,” City staff stated in a report.
The three development teams who received RFPs include Bergamot Station Ltd./Worthe Real Estate Group, Lionstone Group/Industry Ltd., and REthink Development/Kor Group. Each was chosen by an “evaluation panel” during a qualification review process, according to City staff.
City staff added the development teams are “expected to demonstrate experience in deploying innovative strategies involving adaptive reuse of older buildings, the creation of transit-oriented urban infill developments, and the creation of vibrant, sustainable, cultural activity centers.”
Council members also approved staff’s recommended objectives for the development, which suggested the new Bergamot Station Arts Center “must include at least 75,000 square feet of arts-related space that is affordable to non-profit and arts organizations” and provide space for the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
“The development shall include open space, infrastructure and other amenities to support public access to the light rail station as well as improving the environment and functionality of the Site (and) … shall maximize the preservation of existing buildings,” City staff stated.
Other possible elements include “evening and weekend activation” and “other creative office and cultural uses.”
“The development must exemplify exceptional architecture and sustainable design and construction as well as have a focused transit-oriented development approach,” City staff added.
Parking at the Bergamot Station Arts Center would be crafted in accordance with the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), with a focus on shared parking.
City Hall also expects the ground leases at Bergamot Station Arts Center to bring in at least $610,000 “to support the operations of the Big Blue Bus.”
Once the RFP process is complete, City staff will recommend to council members a development team to enter into contract negotiations.
Bergamot Station is located at 2525 Michigan Avenue. The land there was, with the use of transit funds, purchased by City Hall in 1989 “with the goal of serving future transit needs in Santa Monica and providing a source of revenue for the Big Blue Bus.”
According to City staff, City Hall leases the 5.6-acre land to Bergamot Station for $603,797 per year; that lease is set to expire Dec. 31, 2015.
The 5.6-acre land “contains five buildings totaling 76,020 square feet and is occupied by approximately 30 small creative businesses including art galleries, product designers, a non-profit theatre company and a café,” City staff stated.