HOW IMMINENT DOMAIN AT THE BELMAR TRIANGLE EVOLVED INTO THE NEW VILLAGE AT SANTA MONICA MIXED-USE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENTApril 10, 2012 on 5:17 pm | In Fascinating Information, For Your Purchasing Pleasure, fUNNY...mONEY, Historic Properties, Legal, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Landmarks, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
There is great irony in the Village at Santa Monica > the$350-million, 318-unit apartment / condo / retail development going up the 1700 block of Ocean Avenue. The low-rise Village at Santa Monica project will offer 158 luxury condominiums adjacent to 160 affordable apartments crowning 20,000 square feet of commercial space. The irony is that the 160 affordable housing units replace an African-American neighborhood that the City took by imminent domain back in the ‘50s.
Once upon a time the Belmar Triangle was an African-American neighborhood nestled between Pico Boulevard, Main and Fourth Streets. It was destroyed in the 1950s by the City of Santa Monica, which took to aggressive imminent domain action to condemn the area, burning now-landmarked shotgun houses to make room for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
The Belmar Triangle was home to a vibrant community which was categorized as blighted by the City. The area became a target of “urban renewal” as the City used eminent domain to condemn black-owned properties.
Accordingly, local planners leveled homes and businesses to build what is now the Civic Auditorium and its parking lot. Back then, the grazing took place by fire, as the homes were burned to the ground as planners watched.
Santa Monica got their high profile venue. The Civic Auditorium hosted the Academy Awards from 1961 to 1967.
The Belmar neighborhood was a few blocks from Ink Well Beach, the 200-square-foot portion of Santa Monica State Beach that was once roped off and reserved only for African-Americans. The remnants of the Inkwell neighborhood were annihilated when the 10 Freeway was built on that location.
So those 160 affordable apartments came about because of Belmar Triangle politics.
Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s largest affordable housing developer, made it happen. So, in an attempt to right past wrongs, the new Village at Santa Monica will bring back a mixed-income population to the area. A low income building will be named Belmar in its honor. That makes it better…lol….
“We cannot replace the deeds and misdeeds of the past, but we can help in some small way,” offers Andy Agle, director of housing and economic development for the City.
Community Corporation of Santa Monica has been the most aggressive developer of new housing units in the City of Santa Monica. It’s state counterpart, the redevelopment Agency, an entity funded through local taxes to fight blight and repair infrastructure, ceased to exist Feb. 1 after the California Supreme Court ruled that that the legislature could dissolve the 400 agencies in California as part of the state budget. It was the agency that spent $53 million on the 11-acre parcel in the Civic Center area that made it possible to create the affordable housing project on the site.
The Village is within walking distance of a diverse range of Santa Monica attractions and amenities, including the 3rd Street Promenade, public parks and beaches, Main Street, world-class restaurants, shopping, hotels and nightlife. Next door to the Village is the city’s $55-million seven-acre Palisades Garden Walk & Town Square designed by James Corner and expected to be an international landmark when it opens in 2013.
The whole neighborhood is under renovations. City Hall, as well as the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (in a public/private partnership agreement with the Nederlander Organization) are each scheduled for close to a $50-million restoration and revitalization. Down the block we have the light rail coming in 2015, as well as the recently refurbished Santa Monica Place mall which received a $265-million open-air renovation.
“The Village will enhance the image of Santa Monica as a place of beauty, style and spirit,” observed Mayor Richard Bloom at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The City’s commitment to affordable housing is an integral part of this development. It will help ensure that Santa Monica is an accessible and welcoming community that fosters economic diversity.” Mayor Bloom always knows the right thing to say.
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