Five months after preliminary presentations offered a first glimpse of two mixed-use buildings planned near the intersection of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue, the Santa Monica Architectural Review Board is scheduled to begin its official evaluation of the projects.

The first development, planned for a roughly .34-acre site at 1338 5th Street, calls for the construction of a six-story edifice featuring 120 apartments - including 94 single-room occupancy units and 26 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units  - above 2,703 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and parking for 116 vehicles.  A total of 19 apartments would be set aside for lower-income rents.

The design by KFA Architecture is described in a staff report as a modern infill project which uses angled upper-floor balconies to create three-dimensionality.  Proposed exterior finishes would include smooth finish acrylic plaster and fiber cement panels.

Plans call for landscaped open spaces throughout the property, including a podium-level courtyard and a rooftop amenity deck.

The second development would replace a parking lot across the street at 1323 5th Street.  Plans call for the construction of a six-story building containing 52 apartments - including 41 single-room occupancy units and 11 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units - above 1,870 square feet of ground-floor retail and bicycle parking.

The design of 1323 5th Street, also by KFA Architecture, is described as featuring a Mid-Century modern facade that exhibits a "tree-house" concept with projecting private balconies on each floor.

Staff reports recommend that both projects, which are planned by prolific Santa Monica developer WS Communities, should be approved.

Both projects have been granted expedited entitlement processing by the City of Santa Monica as part of a legal settlement with WS Communities.  A determination letter for 1323 5th Street is expected in July, while a letter for 1338 5th Street is anticipated to follow in August.

The new housing would rise just south of a City-owned parking lot at 5th and Arizona, where developers Metropolitan Pacific Capital and Clarett West Development are seeking approvals for the construction an OMA-designed complex consisting of a hotel, retail, open space, and potentially housing.