by: Madeleine Pauker
original article: https://www.smdp.com/new-apartment-buildings-planned-for-downtown-santa-monica/172862
Two multistory buildings rising in downtown Santa Monica will replace low-rise buildings with commercial space and 80 apartments.
A 40-unit building at 601 Wilshire Blvd. will replace a FedEx and a defunct ticket services center and another 40-unit building at 525 Colorado Ave. will replace a one-story building and parking lot occupied by software company Carbon Five. Each will contain more than 6,000 square feet of commercial space facing the street. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) will be providing feedback on the buildings’ design on Tuesday.
The building on Wilshire will sit between the SGI-USA World Peace Auditorium and the building occupied by Mendocino Farms and Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee. The development and the Proper Hotel, which has been under construction and is opening later this year at 710 Wilshire, will stand out in a portion of Wilshire mainly occupied by one or two-story buildings. The hotel will contain 271 rooms and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
The façade of 601 Wilshire will be made up of floor-to-ceiling windows and panels of copper mesh. White or silver slabs will define each of the four stories. The ARB reviewed the project last September and suggested that the architect add landscaping on the north side of the building to buffer it against the smaller apartment buildings on 6th Street. The board also recommended adding a small plaza to the ground floor facing Wilshire.
The project is by WS Communities, a spinoff of NMS Properties that has more than a dozen buildings under development in Santa Monica.
NMS Properties is owned by Neil Shekhter and is the city’s largest and most notorious property developer and manager. The City of Santa Monica has filed a criminal complaintagainst Shekhter’s son for tenant harassment and violating zoning laws. Shekhter himself was convicted of destroying evidence during a legal dispute with a private hedge fund.
The seven-story building on Colorado will stand across the street from a proposed eight-story, 140 unit building at 601 Colorado, which will replace the popular Fritto Misto restaurant. It will also sit adjacent to two multistory hotels, the Courtyard by Marriott and the Hampton Inn & Suites, which replaced low-rise buildings on Colorado a few years ago.
The building will contain 40 apartments and a ground floor intended for a restaurant but it is not required to provide parking spaces because of its proximity to the Expo Line.
The ARB will provide preliminary design feedback on the building. The staff report on the project praised the design’s incorporation of open spaces but said the façade is at times busy and repetitive. The building is white and each level is marked by a solid band. It will include a large cutout balcony on the third and fourth stories.
“While open space on a lot of this size is not required, the proposal has incorporated outdoor space in the form of private balconies and common areas both on the roof and an integrated two-story framed cutout,” staff wrote.
The ARB will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St.