The Santa Monica Planning Commission has delayed until Aug. 24 its vote on the third phase of Colorado Place, a huge office and retail development proposed for Colorado Avenue.
At a five-hour public hearing Monday night, the commission cited the complexity of issues and the late hour as reasons for the postponement. The commission’s recommendation will eventually go to the City Council for final consideration.
The third phase, to be built on 12 acres bounded by Colorado Avenue, 20th Street and Olympic and Cloverfield boulevards, would include a nine-story hotel and more than 750,000 square feet of office and retail space. The first phase has been completed and the second is being built on nearby land bounded by Colorado Avenue, Cloverfield Boulevard, Broadway and 26th Street.
The commissioners heard opposition from residents who are concerned that the development would cause traffic gridlock, worsen air pollution and strain city services. The commission has received more than 200 letters from residents opposed to the third phase.
Residents are upset that this development and other projects will congest almost half of the major intersections in the neighborhood, , according to a traffic study completed for the third phase.
Ray Davis, Santa Monica’s traffic engineer, cautioned that the traffic study was based on a worst-case scenario, and said improvements planned by the developer, Southmark Pacific Corp., would mitigate the impact on traffic. The city would require Southmark Pacific to widen parts of Colorado Avenue and Cloverfield Boulevard and create turn lanes on streets near the site, he said.
The city’s Planning Department and representatives of Southmark Pacific defended the project.
Kenyon Webster, senior planner for the city, said Southmark would be required to pay $3.3 million for housing and parks in Santa Monica, $1 million for road improvements near the project, $250,000 for neighborhood child care and $250,000 for artwork.
Webster also said the third phase would “generate net revenues that can be used to enhance city services.”
It “would be an asset to the community,” he said.
Robbie Monsma, a Southmark vice president, said she would “find it hard to believe that any economically viable project would be acceptable” to the city if the third phase is rejected.