The OB Rag has just heard from residents of the apartments at Abbott and Saratoga – they have until January 2, 2013 to move out, as the 10 condo units of Ocean Park Villas will be constructed soon after.
The 10 units will be condos in a 3 story building, 29 feet high, once the existing four buildings are demolished. Three of the buildings are apartments with a total of 15 units, while the fourth is a shack-like structure boarded up for years whose most recent tenant was Dempsey’s At Ocean Beach, plus it was also the original location of Hodad’s restaurant.
This has been a sordid affair for some, as the battle to save OB’s beachfront from being over-developed has see-sawed back and forth over the last couple of years on this project.
It was just about a year ago, that the OB Planning Board voted to approve the new plans to a project that had had multiple problems.
Back on November 2, 2011, then board members made remarks about the planned construction. Seth Connolly, now off the board, said the design smacked of a “fortress”.
Other comments: Nancy Taylor said the site would be better off as a park. Member Scott Therkalsen said it would seem “set off from the rest of the community.”
Vice-president Landry Watson said, “If you’re going trick-or-treating in this location, it kind of says, ‘Stay away,’ not ‘Come on in and check it out.’”
Tom Gawronski said: “It’s a wild interpretation of the code solely for the purpose, as far as I can see, of allowing this building to be built.”
Board member Craig Klein: “The big beef is that we didn’t want cars visible from the street. That’s been solved. I’ve always regarded this as a difficult site that was going to require creative solutions.”
Board member Bill Bushe called the project a “trend” for beachfront structures. “I don’t think they should be penalized for clever architecture. This is not a bad deal.”
Finally, however, the OB planners determined that they had no basis to vote against the project, finding the applicant had made some changes in response to the board’s feedback. The vote was 9-2 in favor of the project known as Ocean Park Villas. Taylor and Tom Gawronski were the dissenting votes.
Here is a timeline of the controversial project:
- August 65, 2008: OB Planning Board by a vote of 4 to 3 agreed to allow the city to vacate the alleys behind the land at end of Saratoga and Abbott so that the developer of the project could put 2 additional units into his project. In return, the Parks and Rec department will be compensated for the 2700 square feet of land in question.
- January 30, 2009: Coastal Commission issues its Coastal Development Permit to build the new structures. Interestingly enough, the Permit includes this language: “Expiration: If development has not commenced, the permit will expire two years from the date on which the Commission voted on the application.” (Our emphasis.)
- November 2009: the Coastal Commission approves the original plans for demolishing the current 15 units of the four detached buildings, including the former location of Hodad’s, and the construction of a two- story, 30 foot high 12-unit condo building, that would sit over a 27-space subterranean parking garage. The two alleys that border the west and south sides of the property will be eliminated, and half of the alleys will become the property of the new development. The entire alley area will be turfed for pedestrian use and open space.
- In July 2010, the property sold for $3.8 million, cash, to buyer entitled 1984 Abbott LLC, c/o Clark Realty Capital LLC, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 500, San Diego. Clark Realty is an Arlington, Va., headquartered real estate company. The new owners plans on developing 12 new townhomes with an average projected unit floor plan of 1,200 square feet.
- Summer 2010: Local OB architect Steven Lombardi presented his drawings to the OB Planning Board. There are a number of outstanding issues about this site, including the underground garage being built in a flood zone, the city giving up property adjacent to park land allowing the developers to intensify the project. Importantly, the OB Planning Board requested the new owners to consult with local architects, and bring a preliminary design to the planning board before they finalized their plans. The public right of way “give-away” concerns revolve around the fact the property line actually runs right down the middle of that right-of-way, and if vacated, half reverts to City property (park space) and half reverts to the owner’s use. But some believe that the City did not own all of that land, but had a right to use it that was based upon an obsolete public purpose.
- Sometime between the Summer of 2010 and the Fall of 2011, the proposed project switched hands. It was taken over by Marengo Morton Architects, Inc., with Claude Anthony Marengo leading the re-newed efforts to throw the project up. Because of changes, Marengo applies to the Coastal Commission for their approval of his amendment, bypassing the OB Planning Board.
- September 7, 2011: the project’s original architect, Steve Lombardi, returns to the Planning Board to inform them that the entity who had purchased the plans and permits for the Ocean Park Villas project has proceeded to make significant changes to the design (his design) and is attempting to proceed with the amendments to the Permit with the Coastal Commission under the concept of “substantial conformance”.
- September 21, 2011: Coastal Commission staff issues report, and recommends approval of amendment for development to proceed under the old Coastal Permit, despite many changes to the original design. Staff opines that new designs are in “substantial conformance” of earlier, approved design. (Details below.)
- November 2, 2011: The OB Planning Board votes 9 to 2 to approve the new plans.
- November 2012: Residents of current buildings receive order to vacate by Jan. 2, 2013
- Early 2013 – Construction to begin