Los Angeles Business Journal

Santa Monica’s New Direction?

DEVELOPMENT: City mulls project for east of Promenade. By Jacquelyn Ryan Monday, August 19, 2013

Downtown Santa Monica might be getting a landmark 12-story building that would add shops, a hotel, offices and possible residences to the area just east of the popular Third Street Promenade.

A $331 million, 448,000-square-foot tower could be built at the city-owned three-acre property south of Arizona Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets if the City Council approves a plan recommended by an advisory panel.

After a council vote next week, the development group, composed of Metropolitan Pacific Capital, Clarett West Development and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, could immediately begin collecting public input and seeking entitlements while it finalizes its development agreement and ground lease with the city.

The project was designed for the development group by a U.S. division of renowned architect Rem Koolhaas’ firm, Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

John Warfel, principal at Metropolitan Pacific in Santa Monica, said his firm is eager to build the complex project on such a large site in the dense seaside city.

“Downtown Santa Monica is a very dynamic place,” he said. “Just the chance to develop something on a site this size in the middle of downtown Santa Monica is a very exciting opportunity because with a site of this size, you can really do something much more interesting than the typical development.”

The city has long had a reputation for being anti-development, but this project is just the latest in a string of new projects coming to what is already one of L.A.’s most popular shopping, dining and tourist destinations. The coming of the Expo Light Rail Line and the current boom of tech- and entertainment-related firms are strengthening its position as one of the strongest leasing markets in Los Angeles County. The city hopes to bring even more foot traffic to downtown by encouraging redevelopment on the streets east of the Promenade.

As part of that effort, the city has been struggling for years with its Arizona property, now home to two banks and a surface parking lot, and has sought input from the community and professionals about the site’s potential. Earlier this year, the council issued a request for proposals from three development teams – Metropolitan Pacific, a unit of Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Irvine’s Related California Inc.

Although Metropolitan Pacific has the inside track, the City Council could pick one of the other two developers or make a different decision entirely.

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