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Residents unhappy with big development planned for downtown Santa Monica push for park instead

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Anything else would be an an “irretrievable” loss for the city, it says

View of project with ocean in background Rendering courtesy Metropolitan Pacific Capital, Inc.

A group of residents advocating for a slower pace of real estate development in Santa Monica, wants the city to put a park on 2.5 acres of public property in the city’s downtown, reports the Santa Monica Lookout.

A mixed-user, called the Plaza at Santa Monica, is planned for the site. Designed by OMA, a firm headed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, it would replace a couple of bank buildings and parking lots at Fourth and Arizona Avenue with a complex containing hotel rooms, some affordable housing, office space, retail, and open space in the form of two pocket parks and a plaza.

That plan includes open space, but the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City is skeptical. “Much of this ‘open space’ is not pedestrian friendly and serves as tenant improvements for the hotel and office tenants,” a post on the coalition’s website said.

It wants at least 75 percent of the site to be turned into a park.

A city planner working on the project tells Curbed that a park with space for parking is one of the alternatives that will studied as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Report.

The coalition also argues the proposed development is too big for the site and doesn’t help bring needed affordable housing or green space to Santa Monica, says the Lookout. The project includes 48 affordable housing units.

The Plaza project has been in the works for a few years, and earlier this month was retooled to be shorter than originally proposed, at the request of Santa Monica City Councilmembers. It would range from 19 to a maximum 129 feet in height. Previous designs once called for it to reach up to 148 feet tall.

That doesn’t go far enough for the coalition. It says not putting a park here would be “an ‘irretrievable’ loss” for Santa Monica residents, according to the Lookout.