"We felt dancing with the same person for seven years and not coming to a satisfactory conclusion was not worth continuing."
In a move that shows elections have consequences, the Santa Monica City Council voted 4 to 3 Tuesday night to end exclusive negotiations with OMA, the developer of the Plaza Project.
The move reflects the new priorities of Council members Christine Parra, Phil Brock and Oscar de la Torre. The council voted in late July to negotiate with the Plaza Developer, and a 99 year lease of the City land seemed to be in the offing.
A majority of 4 council members voted to break off negotiations with the developer, making the vote 4 to 3. Mayor Sue Himmelrich, Brock, Parra, and De la Torre voted to end negotiations
"The context was whether to enter into a negotiation (ENA) with the current developer. The choices were to continue to negotiate or to break it off and reformulate the negotiation package by issuing a new RFP. A byproduct was to end the lawsuit with SMCLC but that was not the main focus." explained council member Phil Brock. "It was not felt that we needed 200 more market rate apartments downtown."
"The current developer had belatedly offered a housing project containing around 300 units. One third of it affordable. The project would have been limited to 84 ft in height with 1/2 acre of parkland. We wanted to see if a better project could be obtained. The current developer is welcome to reapply, of course. But dancing with the same person for seven years and not coming to a satisfactory conclusion was not worth continuing. There are other potential dancing partners who will give the people of Santa Monica a better product on the people’s land," Brock said.
"This was our first substantial meeting as council members. We were elected to set a new tone, that residents matter, Brock said. "New developments must be projects that fit within the scale and character of our beachside city. The desires of the people who live here must be foremost on the minds of city council members as we navigate the future of Santa Monica."
"Located on 2.5 acres of City owned land between 4th and 5th Street downtown, just south of Arizona Avenue; the Plaza would have included 11 stories of office space, luxury hotel rooms and underground parking. The proposed development, known as The Plaza at Santa Monica, is an 11-story, 240-room luxury hotel, with 106,800 square feet of creative office space, approximately 40,000 square feet of open public space and 48 units of affordable housing at 4th Street and Arizona Avenue in Downtown Santa Monica," the developer's website wrote in September 2020.
"The Plaza will serve as a revenue stream for the city, and generate hundreds of new jobs downtown. This new and exciting hub of life aims to connect our community and give us all many reasons to visit - to work, dine, garden, shop, enjoy the arts, take in the views, or simply relax over a picnic," says https://theplazaatsantamonica.com/, the developers website.
The City was sued because the property is owned by the City. Under the Surplus Land Act, it must be sold by the City if no municipal purpose suits the property. The previous City Council planned to develop the property, and use the proceeds to fund Santa Monica's enormous pension liability.