Madison Realty Eyes 24-Story Apartment Tower in Santa Monica

Madison Realty Capital wants to build a 24-story apartment building in Santa Monica on an approved site once filed as a builder’s remedy project.

The New York-based private equity firm pitched a plan in a meeting with local residents to build the 264-unit high-rise at 601 Colorado Boulevard, the Santa Monica Daily Press and Urbanize Los Angeles reported. The project would necessitate bulldozing a commercial building.

If built at Colorado and 6th Street, the 260-foot building would be the tallest in Santa Monica, and three times the height of the Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel.

Plans for the project call for a 24-story building containing 264 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, including 40 set aside as affordable housing, above 4,200 square feet of ground-floor shops, a fitness center, and a two-level underground garage for 103 cars.

The project, designed by Ottinger Architects, would feature floor-to-ceiling windows with rows of exterior balconies and a rooftop deck, according to a rendering.

“There have been some very significant changes to both local zoning regulations as well as state housing laws that have allowed greater densities, greater heights, greater square footages for projects that are proposing greater amounts of affordable housing,” Dave Rand, a land use attorney, told residents.  

“This project is utilizing the full extent of recent amendments to the state density bonus law to achieve effectively a doubling of the density that would otherwise be allowed under the underlying zoning regulations.”

Madison Realty acquired the site in January from NMS Properties, renamed WS Communities by owner Neil Shekhter, who signed over deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure on 28 apartment buildings and development sites to unburden itself of $1.1 billion in unpaid debt, according to The Real Deal.

Lender Madison Realty took 20 WSC properties, including 601 Colorado. 

The half-acre site was one of nine builder’s remedy projects that Santa Monica agreed to process as part of a settlement agreement with WS Communities a year ago this month. 

Builder’s remedy, a legal loophole in state housing law, allows developers to bypass zoning rules in cities that haven’t certified their state housing plans, providing they contain at least 20 percent affordable units.

While this may be the first highrise Santa Monica has seen in decades, it’s not expected to be the last. Applications for other buildings up to 18 stories in height are also under consideration by the city, according to Urbanize.

Madison Realty Capital also took over portions of the NMS portfolio outside of Santa Monica, including a recently finished apartment tower at 6401 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Grove. Madison has filed plans to subdivide apartments there to boost the total number of rental units.

— Dana Bartholomew

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