Two years after an unsuccessful campaign to block the demolition of Downtown Santa Monica's Parking Structure 3, plans to build affordable housing on the empty lot it left behind are starting to move forward.

Last week, the Santa Monica City Council approved a design concept for the site at 1318 4th Street, which would permit the construction of at least 120 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing.

EAH Housing, which has been selected to develop the publicly-owned property, is considering two alternatives for the site, including a six-story building featuring 122 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments - with 50 units of supportive housing - atop ground-floor commercial space and subterranean parking for 116 vehicles. The second option would consist of a larger eight-story building containing up to 196 dwelling units atop ground-floor retail space and underground parking for 179 vehicles.

Parking Structure 3 site in Downtown Santa MonicaGoogle Maps

Both alternatives would include ground-floor space designed to accommodate a grocery store and supportive services provided by The People Concern. VTBS Architects, Epstein & Associates, AMJ Construction Management, California Housing Partnership, and The Lynch Group, Inc. fill out the project team for each option.

According to a staff presentation, the estimated cost of the smaller 122-unit alternative is $123 million, versus a $207.9-million price tag for the larger 196-unit alternative. In either case, the per-unit cost for the project would exceed $1 million, likely making the 1318 4th Street development the most expensive affordable housing development in Los Angeles County to date by that measure. Previously, projects that have crossed that threshold have been concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While the council action does not preclude the possibility of potentially pursuing a larger project, staff and EAH are moving forward with the lower-scale alternative due to concerns about the ability to successfully finance the larger project. EAH hopes to begin applying for funding in March 2026 for the project, with the aim of commencing work in early 2028. That would pave the way for construction to be completed by 2030.

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