A new Sea Castle is taking shape just south of Santa Monica Pier.
Construction began this month on a $44-million Moderne-style luxury apartment building that will replace its landmark predecessor, which was red-tagged after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and gutted by fire in 1996.
The new edifice will be similar in profile and design to the high-rise Art Deco building that stood watch over Santa Monica's sandy beaches for more than 70 years.
The Sea Castle was known as Breakers Beach Club Hotel when it opened in 1926. In the 1930s it was renamed the Grand Hotel, and during World War II it was used for military housing. Not until the 1960s was the flamboyant, turquoise-shaded structure converted into an apartment building.
According to Wade Killefer of the Santa Monica-based architectural firm Killefer Flammang Purtill, the new 173,000-square-foot Sea Castle will feature an eight-story tower with a receded summit, two symmetrical four-story wings and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The sand-colored building will sport blue-green accents that hark back to its Art Deco ancestor, and "distinctly Moderne streamline-style interior public spaces," such as a large lobby, suite of offices, fitness center and a penthouse balcony lounge, Killefer said.
Under provisions of Santa Monica's Earthquake Recovery Act, the Sea Castle had to be rebuilt to original's dimensions, with the same number of units.
Forty-five of the 178 units will be reserved for low- and moderate-income tenants; the remainder will be priced at market rates.
The 25 studios and 153 one-bedroom apartments, ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet, will be available for occupancy "around Christmas of next year," said Robert May, managing member of Pasadena-based Province Group, the Sea Castle's developer.
"There's a lot of responsibility that goes with developing a high-profile landmark building like this," May said. "But it's a rare opportunity to do a beachfront development that can address the tremendous demand for quality rentals in Santa Monica."
Province is not yet fielding inquiries from prospective tenants but will begin a marketing program early next year, May said. Previous Sea Castle residents will be given priority.