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Mixed Feelings on SaMo Professional Building Hotel Plans

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A proposal to build a hotel at Seventh and Wilshire in Santa Monica is either sprinting towards approval or limping to a slow death--depends on which story you read. The plan, which has been in the works for years, includes renovating and building around the landmarked Santa Monica Professional Building to create a six-story, 285 room hotel with groundfloor retail. Reporting from a planning commission meeting this week,the LookOut News says the hotel will likely move forward, since it has the solid backing of many local organizations like Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and Santa Monica's Convention and Visitors Bureau. It also quotes commissioner Ted Winterer as saying the developer's plan is "respectful" of the 84 year old Professional Building (the developer also plans to build housing on a nearby lot on Lincoln). But the Santa Monica Patch takes a more grim position, saying the planning commission, which loosened zoning standards for the hotel, is not sold on parts of the developer's plans.

One big problem is the design of the 164,000 square foot project, described by some as plain and not exactly complementary to the Spanish Colonial Revival Professional Building. Other issues include the hourly wages the hotel will pay to employees, which are about three dollars less than what unions want--commissioners said they weren't given enough time to consider the developer's proposal on pay.

Planners also took umbrage with the developer's request for major latitude on the groundbreaking date, specifically the option to apply for building permits seven years (!) after the development agreement is signed, with the possibility for three years of extensions.

Considering all these factors, the commission delayed a vote on the development agreement for the project until Feb. 15.
· Downtown Santa Monica Hotel Gets Solid Backing [The LookOut]
· Planning Agency's Not Sold On 710 Wilshire's Provisions [Santa Monica Patch]