SANTA MONICA—In a 6-1 vote, the Santa Monica and Malibu School District (SMMUSD) Board of Education on October 15 approved the $21 million purchase of the DoubleTree office building, which the school district plans to utilize as its new headquarters.

The final vote moved forward plans to make another building on the property, which is located on 1717 4th Street. All district departments are going to be held in the same building across from the Santa Monica High School campus, which has 25 percent of the students from the SMMUSD.

The purchase of the property is an effort to achieve long-term goal of the district to move their offices to a building and location that is better for reducing current costs and district revenues. It’s also meant to improve operations and services to both families and students.

According to an SMMUSD press release, Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati stated, “This opportunity provides students, the district and community with many benefits, and would bring the district office back to the civic center area, adjacent to our high school with the highest population of students in the entire district.”

The office building is three floors, which contains 31,784 square feet of usable office space, while the parking garage is two floors, with 106 parking spaces in a subterranean garage.

Financing of the building will go to the Certificates of Participation and Redevelopment Agency, which is currently the best possible option. The school district will be forced to dip into the General Fund, an option available as a last resort.

Some members of the school board openly dissented the decision, stating their concerns with making a purchase in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, which could be a safety issue, when the public is not being asked for their input.

The only board member, Oscar De La Torre, to vote against the purchase of the property asked for a two-week delay. He wanted to discuss other possible uses for their soon-to-be former headquarters at 1651 16th Street, other than utilizing it for commercial real estate.