The Santa Monica Daily Press is reporting that “New plans for the site of arguably the most controversial Santa Monica development in recent years include reoccupation and an addition, totaling 203,816 square feet of office space, according to documents filed with City Hall earlier this month.

“Hines, the Texas-based developer whose larger project included nearly 375,000 square feet of office space but also 427 apartments and $32 million in community benefits, is no longer involved with the property.

“The Hines project was approved in a 4-3 Council vote that was later overturned by a successful referendum from residents who feared the project was too big and would create too much additional traffic.

“Lincoln Property Company, based in Los Angeles, is now acting as the developer and CSHV Pen Factory owns the land.
“Unlike the Hines project, which exceeded City Hall’s land-use limits and therefore needed approval from City Council, the Pen Factory project can proceed relatively uninhibited because it stays within the code.

“The project can be approved through an administrative approval, which is a code compliance check by staff, then would only need to be reviewed by the ARB (for design review),” said city planner Jing Yeo.

“The Architectural Review Board (ARB) won’t be able to negotiate for additional community benefits.

“It looks like the scenario where someone rehabs the existing building and hires some designers to make it a desirable workplace — but all internal to the site — is coming to fruition,” said Council member Pam O’Connor, who supported the Hines project. “No public amenities would be provided and the former industrial site will become more like a gated suburban office campus …except for the two good things — it will be next to a rail station and will provide jobs.”

“O’Connor said that commercial developers likely won’t want or need to add housing for decades.

“Just sad that this opportunity to also provide housing and create a mixed use walkable community — in a time of a housing affordability, and availability crisis — has been lost,” she said.”

O’Connor’s affection for commercial developments is legendary. The Santa Monica Transparency Project found that O’Connor has accepted 31 allegedly illegal campaign contributions from developers or their associates.

As a Council member and mayor, O’Connor led the Council in rejecting virtually all appeals by The Landmarks Commission or other entities and approving thoroughly dubious projects.
When residents voted to reject the Hines project, O’Connor abstained rather voting to rescind the Council approval — unlike her Council colleagues who voted to rescind it. .

The longtime Council member’s loyalty to developers’ com-
mercial projects is absolute, but, of course, she continues to take an oath after every election to serve residents fully and well, not developers.

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