Bergamot Station Arts Center Development On Santa Monica Council Docket

Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 9:19:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

A rendering of 26Street TOD Partners’ proposed 221,264 square foot development for 2525 Michigan Avenue.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of 26Street TOD Partners’ proposed 221,264 square foot development for 2525 Michigan Avenue.

The Santa Monica City Council is not yet done with development in the Bergamot Station area. Just two weeks after formally approving the controversial Hines development agreement (DA) on second reading by a 4-3 vote, council members will be voting this Tuesday, Feb. 25 to allow the City Manager’s office to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with a developer to develop the Bergamot Station Arts Center.

If approved, 26Street TOD Partners would begin the process of seeking a DA from City Hall. Since this is one of the first steps on the DA application process, a final vote on the proposed project would not come until at least 2017.

Still, the prospects for a DA at 2525 Michigan Avenue – less than a mile from the just-approved Hines DA, which, once built, could bring as many as 7,000 additional vehicles to the Bergamot Station area – may draw additional ire from some development-weary residents.

So, what does the redevelopment project propose?

Council members will be is considering 26Street TOD Partners’ project that 221,264 square feet in size. Of that building space, 75,000 square feet would be dedicated to subsidized arts space, 68,777 square feet for a hotel, 40,000 square feet in creative office space, 20,000 square feet allocated to art-related retail space, and 17,877 square feet set aside for restaurant.

“As proposed, the project offers affordable, subsidized space for non-profit arts organizations and for-profit galleries, nearly 1.5 acres of public and civic space, preservation of at least 54 percent of existing buildings, night and weekend site-activation uses, public parking, bike facilities and sustainable, transit-oriented design,” City staff stated. “Total development costs are anticipated to be $92 million, with an initial annual ground lease payment to the City of $750,000.”

The current proposal also calls for 64,900 square feet in open space and 442 at-grade and subterranean parking spaces.

According to City staff, the developer proposes a six-story, 93-room hotel and a four-story museum; also proposed is a 200-plus-seat amphitheatre. The proposed Floor-Area Ratio (FAR) is 0.9.

“The proposed development preserves and enhances Building B, E and possibly also Buildings A/C, while constructing additional buildings in a complementary, industrial design,” City staff stated. “A vine-covered garden concourse bisects the site, intersecting public spaces landscaped with succulents and wildflowers. All tenant spaces open directly onto outdoor walkways that accommodate both public art installations and spillover space for gallery events.”

According to City staff, the developer would seek LEED gold-level certification, install rooftop solar units and a rainwater collection and irrigation system, and provide natural lighting and ventilation for tenant spaces.

The development also proposes bicycle parking and a full-service bicycle center.

Two non-profit partners – CalArts and KCRW – are proposed to work alongside the museum and galleries to create arts education and programming.

“The developer will contribute a portion of parking revenues to arts programming, estimated $150,000 per year,” City staff stated.

City staff added the 26Street TOD Partners proposal was the “most exciting, visionary and creative in its approach to realizing a vibrant arts and cultural center” and the project, if realized, “would retain and build upon the success of the current center by retaining art galleries, supporting both emerging and established artists, and expanding the array of cultural offerings on the site.”

Two other groups submitted proposals: Bergamot Station LTD/Worthe Real Estate Group, and REthink Development/Kor Group.

The Bergamot Station LTD/Worthe Real Estate Group proposal, according to City staff, did not maximize the synergy of the new transit station and therefore missed the opportunity of taking Bergamot Station Arts Center to a new level of community access, cultural programming, and long-term viability.

With regard to REthink Development/Kor Group’s proposal, City staff stated the evaluation panel questioned the team’s overall experience and ability to deliver a project of this complexity, given that the collective team has not worked together previously.

The 26Street TOD Partners proposal carries the highest price tag at a little more than $92 million. REthink Development/Kor Group’s proposal was priced in at about $81.7 million, while Bergamot Station LTD/Worthe Real Estate Group estimated its project would cost about $80.4 million.

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