The lot on Lincoln Boulevard was snatched up for more than $11 million last month—one of at least three decades-old properties along the mid-city corridor likely to undergo a major transformation in the coming years.
Two of the diner's neighbors, and furniture, are currently on the market and are being billed by the listing agent as prime spots for redevelopment.
When the Santa Monica City Council adopted new zoning rules two years ago to promote combined commercial/retail/housing developments—applicable to Denny's, Norm's and theantique store—the value of the properties soared, prompting the owners’ desire to sale, according to listing agent Patrick Wade of Santa Monica-based Marcus & Millichap.
Though it would likely take a few years for the city to approve any new developments, "what is definite is the existing structures are not going to be there in the long term," Wade said.
"Because of the density that's allowed to be built there, it doesn’t make sense to have all that parking and open space."
At the northwest corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, Denny's has 1 ½ years left on its 20-year lease that began in March of 1968. Escrow closed on the site Jan. 31.
As with Norms and Wertz, Wade speculated that new zoning ordinance, known locally as LUCE, will allow the businesses to remain open, perhaps as first-floor operations below apartments or condos.
The ordinance aims “to transform properties into vibrant, diverse, and attractive pedestrian friendly boulevards that support local-serving retail and a diversity of housing types,” Marcus & Millichap wrote in its call for bids on the sites.
Wertz is the oldest of the three sites. Since 1931, its sold vintage art, fashions, furniture from the beige stucco building at 1607 Lincoln Blvd. Located immediately adjacent to Norms, Wade said he expects the same buyer to purchase both properties.
Combined, they would total 1.49 acres of land, “creating the opportunity to develop the largest current land project in Santa Monica.”
Not far from the sites, a developer is inching closer to winning the city's approval to build a 285-room hotel and 15,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at the corner of Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard.