The Santa Monica City Council conceptually approved a revised design concept plan for the Civic Center Village at its meeting Tuesday, August 14th.

This will allow the Related Companies of California to apply for a Development Agreement and other required entitlement applications, and also authorizes city staff to begin Development Agreement negotiations.

The village will enhance the Civic Center area by providing about 325 residences, public open space and neighborhood-serving retail services, which will be built on city-owned land, city officials said.

Of the 325 residences, 160 will be affordable housing units.

“For us to build 160 [affordable housing] units in this town is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Mayor Richard Bloom.

The village will include six residential buildings, approximately 12,000 square feet for stores designed to serve the neighborhood and 655 parking spaces, according to city staff.

It will also feature a public plaza connecting with the future Palisades Garden Walk park, a pedestrian-only walk street through the site; integrated public art and the extension of Olympic Drive from Main Street to Ocean Avenue, city officials say.

In June, City Council and the city Redevelopment Agency directed city staff and the development-design team to provide an alternative heights-and-massing concept for the proposed Civic Center Village.

The council and the agency had asked staff to “pursue more creative massing” and “consider modest additional height” to a proposed condominium building adjacent to the Viceroy Hotel, to vary the faÁade at the proposed two condominium buildings adjacent to Olympic Drive.

In response, an alternative massing approach that would increase the height of the condominium building to up to 96 feet, 31 feet above the recommended height limit of 65 feet, was brought before the council.

The height limit had already been raised from 56 to 65 feet in 2006.

Councilmen Bob Holbrook and Bobby Shriver did not like the idea of increasing the recommended height to 96 feet and voted against the revised plan.

“I hope the record reflects my no vote here relates primarily to the height of the buildings and has nothing to do with affordable housing,” Shriver said. “I’m very, very opposed to high heights myself, just as a 20-year resident, and I hear all over town that people don’t want higher heights. I’ve never heard anyone say they want higher buildings.”

Nonetheless, Shriver said he is a strong supporter of affordable housing.

“If we allow a 96-foot-tall building on Ocean Avenue, we’re going to be very hard-pressed to tell somebody else somewhere along Ocean Avenue that they can’t [have a 96-foot building],” Holbrook said, adding that he thought 96 feet was just too high.

Mayor pro tem Herb Katz thought the alternative height was a “good solution” and said he believed the project was moving in the right direction, although it needs refinement.

Councilman Kevin McKeown said that it was disappointing seeing the drop in the number of affordable housing units from what was originally proposed — as the piece of land for housing was smaller than the city had hoped for — but says he’s still “thrilled to see a project as good as what we’re left with.”

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