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Pico Neighbors Continue Protest Against Colorado Place Hotel Plan

January 25, 1987|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

Members of the Pico Neighborhood Assn. last week protested that a nine-story hotel proposed as part of the $225-million Colorado Place project would create traffic and parking problems for residents.

Pico area residents said during a community meeting Wednesday that until recently they had not been included in the planning for the mixed-commercial project that involves two sites in Santa Monica.

Another public forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Colorado Place, 2425 Colorado Ave. The plan will be submitted to the Santa Monica Planning Commission on Feb. 9.

At Wednesday's meeting, Pico residents questioned the impact of a compromise plan, which grew out of negotiations involving the city, Mid-City Neighbors and the developer, Southmark Pacific Corp.

Exclusion Defended

The Pico Neighborhood Assn. was left out. "We want to have a voice in the decision-making process," said Executive Director Vivian Linder.

Robbie Monsma, a vice president of Southmark, said Pico residents were excluded at first because the original plans for Colorado Place did not directly affect that neighborhood. The project initially was located in the area represented by Mid-City Neighbors, which has been involved in the planning negotiations for several years, she said.

Originally owned by Becket Investment Corp., Colorado Place at first consisted of a two-phase development of a single 15-acre site bounded by Colorado Avenue, Cloverfield Boulevard, Broadway and 26th Street.

Under a controversial 1981 development agreement that a Becket executive said amounted to "legal extortion" by the City Council, the city required Becket to provide day-care services, 100 units of low-cost housing and at least 50% open space within the design of the project.

First Phase Finished

The first phase of the project, completed in 1983, includes three office buildings and a restaurant plaza on the south half of the site facing Colorado.

Becket's plan for the second phase on the other half of the site facing Broadway called for two offices, two nine-story hotel towers and a 3.5-acre park.

Southmark acquired the project in 1985 and obtained approval for two office buildings that are under construction at Cloverfield and Broadway. But Southmark sought to alter Becket's plan for the two nine-story hotels, saying that such development would not be economically feasible.

Southmark instead proposed a 13- to 15-story hotel facing Broadway.

Faced with strong opposition from Mid-City Neighbors and the City Council, Southmark filed suit in Santa Monica Superior Court last January claiming that the city was illegally blocking its plans.

New Land Acquired

The lawsuit was settled in May after several months of negotiations involving the city, Southmark and Mid-City Neighbors. The compromise plan involves a newly leased 11-acre site, called Phase III, bounded by Colorado, Cloverfield, Olympic Boulevard and 20th Street.

The nine-story hotel would be located on the 11-acre site, and where the hotel would have been on Broadway, Southmark plans a five-story office building. The 3.5-acre park would remain at Broadway and 26th Street as originally planned.

Monsma said Wednesday that if this plan is approved, Southmark has reached "an agreement in principle" to include a complex of eight movie theaters with 2,500 seats at the original 15-acre site. This would improve nighttime use of the project and draw more business to the restaurants there, she said. Free parking is provided.

Pico Neighborhood Assn. members Gregory Wilder and Clyde Smith said they plan to raise questions at next Wednesday's meeting about the impact a hotel would have on their area.

Only about 35 people attended Wednesday's meeting because the neighborhood groups sent notices out by bulk mail and few residents received them in time for the meeting, the groups said. Notices of the Jan. 28 meeting will be sent out first-class.

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