A Frank Gehry-designed development which would bring new housing, a hotel, and commercial uses to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica is one step closer to reality, following a vote by the Santa Monica City Council to approve the project's public benefits agreement.

Ocean Avenue paseoGehry Partners LLP

The Ocean Avenue Project, proposed by Worthe Real Estate Group, is named for its proposed location at the northeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard - directly across the street from Palisades Park. Plans call for the construction of multiple mid-rise and low-rise structures, which would contain:

  • a 120-room hotel with a spa, meeting, and banquet space;
  • 100 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, including 25 deed-restricted affordable units (priced for renters earning 30, 50, and 80 percent of the area median income level) and 19 rent-controlled units;
  • a roughly 35,5000-square-foot “Cultural Uses Campus” featuring two existing landmarked buildings and one new structure;
  • approximately 36,100 square feet of retail, restaurant, and commercial space;
  • a 5,000-square-foot, publicly accessible rooftop observation deck; and
  • subterranean parking for up to 285 vehicles.

View from Santa Monica BoulevardGehry Partners LLP

Gehry's design for the Ocean Avenue Project calls for buildings reaching up to 130 feet in height - the tallest heights permitted by the Downtown Santa Monica Community Plan. Plans call for a series of pedestrian paseos and courtyards that would divide the project site, connecting Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, 2nd Street, and 1st Court. Additional open space would be provided through terrace decks carved into the sides of the buildings.

The public benefits agreement, valued at approximately $53.3 million accounts for the provision of affordable housing and the museum, which will showcase pieces from Gehry's archives for a minimum of 15 years. Per a news release from the City of Santa Monica, the package will also include more than $6 million in direct payments, including:

  • $2,225,000 toward local transportation infrastructure;
  • $2,160,000 toward parks and recreation programs and projects;
  • $1,000,000 toward early childhood initiatives;
  • $400,000 toward affordable housing; and
  • $250,000 toward equity and economic opportunity initiatives.

Pedestrian mall Gehry Partners LLP

A financial analysis submitted to the Santa Monica Planning Commission in May estimated that the total construction cost for the Ocean Avenue Project is approximately $243 million, with soft costs escalating the total budget to approximately $350 million.

While the vote by the Santa Monica City Council represents a key milestone, Worthe is not quite done wending the project through the approval process. The developer will next face the California Coastal Commission, and is subject to additional hearings before the City’s Architectural Review Board and Landmarks Commission. Following final approvals, construction is expected to occur over roughly three years.

The Ocean Avenue Project is one of a handful of large mixed-use projects in the works for Downtown Santa Monica, including a proposed revamp and expansion of the Miramar Hotel by Pelli Clarke Pelli. A large multifamily residential complex from Related Cos. is also poised to break ground this summer at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Broadway.

View from Santa Monica Boulevard and 2nd StreetGehry Partners LLP

In addition to the Ocean Avenue Project, Worthe and Gehry have also teamed up on the ongoing Warner Bros. Second Century expansion in Burbank.