Yet Another Tower to Start Construction on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica
Lincoln Blvd is already at capacity, but residents loss will be Neil Shekhter's gain
November 11, 2019
The canyon of construction that Lincoln Boulevard has become near the 10 Freeway onramp is going to receive a new addition to the mess this spring. The current surface parking lot between Santa Monica Boulevard and Broadway, once a block of one-story shops, will be demolished in turn to allow construction of a five-story mixed-use building at 1430 Lincoln Boulevard.
The developer of the building is WS Communities - isn't that a nice name? Sounds so friendly. But WS Communities is actually an affiliate of NMS Properties, a developer who is notorious for obtaining cushy developer agreements that allow them to build beyond the city's zoning requirements. In addition, NMS CEO Neil Shekhter has been the subject of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charge.
The project at 1430 Lincoln Boulevard will have roughly 6,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, 100 market-rate apartments, and a four-level underground parking garage with 296 spaces.
A considerable amount of jockeying had to be done to give this project a green light from the city, involving trading properties, moving and sharing parking spaces, and massaging affordable housing unit numbers.
The legal and political maneuvering began with the city's desire to build a new fire station downtown to replace the existing station on 7th Street. This fire station, built in 1955, was judged to be old and in poor condition. The problem was that the location the city wanted for the new station was on a private parking lot, also on 7th Street, owned by NMS.
A complicated arrangement was worked out between Santa Monica city officials and NMS. NMS would give the city the lot on 7th Street for their fire station (now under construction). In return, the city would cede to NMS two municipally-owned parcels on 5th Street. In addition, the city would allow NMS to do a complicated parking lot construction at 1430 Lincoln Blvd.
In the interim between the destruction of the lot on 7th Street and the beginning of construction at 1430 Lincoln, the lot at 1430 Lincoln was turned into a temporary surface parking lot. (You've seen it; it's the Cadillac of parking lots with full-size trees.)
Of course, this interim lot will be destroyed in the spring when WS Communities breaks ground for the mixed-use building. Do not be so naive as to think any of the additional parking spaces that will be part of the new building will be available to the public. Instead, 30 of the spaces will for the exclusive use of the City. 20 of them will be for building visitors. And probably all of them will cost an arm and a leg to use. We should be thankful the city is not waiving parking requirements as they are doing for other projects going up in the city.
WS Communities is fulfilling their obligation to include a certain percent of affordable units by constructing 30 affordable units offsite at a senior housing project at 711 Colorado Avenue. This arrangement also became complicated since the project at 711 Colorado is already constrained by a settlement agreement to provide certain specified affordability levels that don't exactly match what WS is obligated to provide. In addition, 711 Colorado is also being used to satisfy the affordable housing requirements for a development at 1325 6th Street. But they all worked it out. Trust me. And forget the fact that all this luxury housing is in effect building slums elsewhere. It's all good.