Plans for Tallest Building in Santa Monica Underway

The tower would rise 24 stories and feature 264 apartment units if greenlit.

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Madison Realty Capital wants to build the tallest tower in Santa Monica, Calif. — but it needs local approval first.

The New York City-based private equity firm hosted a community meeting earlier this week to present plans for the 24-story, mixed-use development at 601 Colorado Avenue, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press, which first reported the news. 

SEE ALSO: L+M Plans 328-Unit Affordable Housing Development at 1225 Gerard Avenue in the Bronx

Plans call for 264 residential units at the building, 40 of which would be set aside as affordable housing, plus 4,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. Ottinger Architects is designing the development.

Madison Realty took over the property earlier this year after Neil Shekhter’s NMS Properties signed over control of half of its 2,200-unit portfolio in Santa Monica to settle more than $1 billion in unpaid debt, according to The Real Deal. As the main lender on that portfolio, Madison Realty acquired 20 of those assets from NMS, 601 Colorado Avenue among them.

Representatives for Madison Realty did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Although Santa Monica’s maximum building height is 130 feet, the 601 Colorado project is able to rise far above that limit due to a “builder’s remedy” agreement its former owner reached with the city last year. California’s builder’s remedy provision allows developers to bypass local zoning restrictions if certain jurisdictions do not have an adequate amount of housing. 

The controversial builder’s remedy provision has been used most readily by developer Leo Pustilnikov, who is attempting to build developments at heights well above what local zoning ordinances allow in cities such as Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Redondo Beach. Soundview Investment Partners also plans to use builder’s remedy to construct a 17-story, mixed-use tower in Beverly Hills, which would replace a two-story office building on the famed Rodeo Drive.

Madison Realty’s takeover of NMS’s portfolio is the latest example of how Madison has steadily gained traction in Southern California in recent years. In October, it substantially boosted the loan amount it gave to a Harridge Development Group-led joint venture, from $34 million to $115 million, for its construction of two mixed-use developments in L.A.’s Koreatown. 

Nick Trombola can be reached at ntrombola@commercialobserver.com.