Opposition Grows Toward Marriott Project In Downtown Santa Monica

Friday, 26 Jul 2013, 8:06:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

A rendering of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel proposed for the corner of Colorado Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Santa Monica.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel proposed for the corner of Colorado Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Santa Monica.

A coalition of clergy, community activists, hospitality workers, and students has come together to oppose two big box hotel brands coming to downtown Santa Monica. The proposals to bring a Courtyard by Marriott and a Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton have “serious shortcomings,” the coalition believes.

One of those proposed development agreements (DA) was scheduled to be considered at Wednesday night’s Santa Monica Planning Commission meeting. Members of the coalition issued a press release hours before the meeting, stating they were congregating at City Hall to challenge a DA they claim has “serious shortcomings in the Development Agreement Proposal that fail to adequately address community values of environmental protection, good job development, local training and local hiring.”

“Moving beyond the rhetoric of height and density, community activists assert that there are a broad range of community values impacted by development that must be met through creative proposals and strong community benefit package,” the coalition said.

Some of the group’s members include former Santa Monica Mayor Rev. Jim Conn, Jewish Labor Committee executive director Leslie Gersicoff, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice program director Pastor Bridie C. Roberts, Hospitality Training Academy executive director Adine Foreman, and representatives of Unite Here Local 11.

Roberts stated in a letter to planning commissioners the proposed DA has “serious flaws” and would “cheapen the value of Santa Monica as a prime development spot.”

As proposed the Courtyard by Marriott DA would bring a “new moderately-priced, limited-service hotel” to Fifth Street and Colorado Avenue. Coincidentally, the Expo Line’s terminus station, once completed in 2016, would be across the street.

OTO Development proposes the Courtyard by Marriott to be six stories and 74 feet high with 136 rooms and up to 108 parking spaces in a two-level subterranean garage. If built as proposed, the Courtyard by Marriott would take up as much as 78,750 square feet of floor area at the corner of Fifth and Colorado.

A City staff report to planning commissioners outlined a list of proposed community benefits, including a one-time contribution of at least $300,000 by the developer for use in other areas such as the Colorado Esplanade, affordable housing, historic preservation initiatives, parks and recreation projects, and open space projects. City staff suggested planning commissioners request the developer to up the contribution to $600,000.

Other proposed community benefits include a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to reduce parking demand and vehicle trips, LEED Gold certification, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, a local hiring provision, space for a planned bicycle sharing program station, community access to on-site meeting space, and ground floor setbacks.

City staff outlined how the Courtyard by Marriott might be used. As currently proposed, “the ground floor would include a mix of hotel uses, including lobby operations and offices, house laundry facilities, business and media centers with seating, and associated service areas.”

The hotel also proposes up to 4,500 square feet of restaurant space to service room occupants and the general public. Part of the restaurant would include space for outdoor dining along Colorado Avenue.

Other amenities would include a retail sundry market stand within the hotel lobby, exercise room, pool, and a sun deck.

Though proposed in earlier iterations, the Courtyard by Marriott DA does not include plans for a rooftop deck.

A separate DA is proposed by OTO Development to bring a Hampton Inn and Suites to 501 Colorado Avenue.

Currently, Midas Auto Service and Royalty Auto Body Shop occupy the lot where the Courtyard by Marriott might be built.

According to City staff, the structure housing Midas and Royalty Auto Body “is listed on the City’s Historic Resource Inventory … as being locally significant both individually … and as a contributor to a Santa Monica Historic District.”

The Mirror will continue coverage of the two hotel DAs and their respective navigation through the public process in coming weeks.

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