SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, July 28, the Santa Monica City Council voted to continue negotiations with developers regarding a city-owned property renovation to become a multi-use plaza with public, private, and residential areas.

The council vote does not approve the project, but allows for continued negotiations regarding the proposed project with Clarett  West  Development, and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners.

The current proposal for the property, located on Arizona Avenue between 4th Street and 5th Street, would develop the city-owned property consisting of a surface parking lot and two banks into The Plaza at Santa Monica, according to a staff report.

The Plaza at Santa Monica would consist of 42,000 square feet of public space, which includes space for seasonal ice-skating, an amphitheater, an urban garden, a dog park, and a public observation deck. The development will include either 48-onsite affordable residences or a $24 million monetary contribution to build up to 130 off-site affordable residences. The most recent proposal includes 107,000 square feet of office space, a 100,000 square foot reduction from the original proposal.

The developed area would include 12,000 square feet of cultural space and a mobility hub with 476 bike parking spots, programmable space for bike retails and repairs, 192 public parking spaces, and 513 private parking spaces. There will also be a hotel, ground-level café space, and a 20,000 square foot green space.

After community input and the COVID-19 economic impact at the meeting, the City Council directed staff to prioritize public benefits and affordable housing in the future negotiations with developers. The Santa Monica City Council “also instructed staff to  negotiate local hire terms  as well as terms relating to  continued partnership in the project throughout construction and profit participation for the City,” as stated in a staff report.

The Plaza at Santa Monica recently approved an exemption from the Surplus Land Act, “a state law that incentivizes the use of public property for affordable housing and other process” as described in a press release. The California Housing and Community Development Department originally decided the act would apply to The Plaza, but later announced the project was eligible for an exemption.

The current timeline for the project depends on the negotiations between the city and developers, “to align  the project scope  with  revised  Council  direction regarding public objectives.” The city council estimates the project could be presented to the Planning Commission and approved by the City Council by 2022, potentially opening by 2025.

The project proposal for The Plaza at Santa Monica began in 2013 with developer negotiations following a competitive request for proposals from multiple developers. In 2015, the Santa Monica City Council voted to conduct an Environmental Impact Report, study EIR alternatives, and begin development agreement negotiations.