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Nebraska Would Bustle Under Updated Bergamot Plan

As they prepare for major development near the Bergamot Arts Center, Santa Monica planners look to transform the street into a corridor of neighborhood shops easily accessed by foot and bike.

Planners are paying a lot of attention to side-street Nebraska Avenue in updated plans to regulate future development in the industrial Bergamot Area.

Along with busier Olympic Boulevard, Nebraska would be transformed into one of the area's two corridors, possibly boasting wider sidewalks, shared bike lanes, shops and small parks between Centinela Avenue and 26th Street.

"We're creating a unifying corridor, a pedestrian-oriented spine," city consultant Woodie Tescher told the Planning Commission last week, "a place where people walk and gather."

In an updated version of the Bergamot Area Plan, it's called the "Nebraska Spine."

In the "mixed-use creative district," retail would be encouraged along Nebraska Avenue, particularly in the heart of district at Berkeley Avenue, and within the mixed-use projects planned on Colorado Avenue.

The street would be extended from its current terminus at Stewart Street to connect a "transit village" across from a Metro station at Olympic and 26th at the Bergamot area's western boundary to residential and commercial development planned to the east.

Planners said to ensure the shops serve residents and don't become a regional draw, concentrated retail hubs should crop up in a few select areas along Nebraska, instead of running the entire stretch. It's proposed they'll be kept under 2,000 linear feet, the size of the Third Street Promenade.

The 140-acre Bergamot area will undergo major changes with the arrival of the Expo light rail in 2016.

In as soon as five years, the future Bergamot area could include a made-over Bergamot Arts Station. There's also a proposal for a 766,094-square-foot "transit village" of residences, office space, shops and restaurants at the former PaperMate site directly across from the station (those plans, however, are reportedly being held up by about six months). Just east of the "village," an even bigger project is planned consisting of more homes and spaces for creative offices and cultural art outlets.

The Bergamot Area Plan calls for retail in the transit village to be at the Expo station, on a new street through the former Papermate site, and possibly at the intersection of Olympic and Stewart, where several hundred residential units are proposed.

Olympic would be transformed into a landscaped "greenway" with lots of greenery, parks and sidewalks, and new signalized crosswalks east of Stewart. It would "take on a more urban form as it continues west with on-street parking, two new signalized crossings and more activity near the Expo station," according to the city planners and consultants.

Areawide, the proposed street network is projected to create 8.5-10 miles of new sidewalks, 2.2 miles of new dedicated or "sharrow" bike lanes, 1.8-3.6 miles of new multi-use paths, and 1.5-3 miles of new shared bike space.

Other proposed improvements include converting Pennsylvania Avenue between Stewart and 26th from a one-way street to a two-way street.

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Gregg Heacock December 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The "Nebraska Spine" is severed just below the neck by Stewart Street. Cars heading west from Centinela to Stewart presently have nothing to ease their flow into or through the line of cars stopped at the light at Olympic. There is not enough space between Nebraska and Olympic to place another light. How these cars, let alone pedestrians, might cross Steward to enter the bifurcated extension of Nebraska west of Stewart remains unclear to people in the Mid-City area who would be caught up in this ganglia of cars and pedestrians at the "signalized crossings" drawn up by planners and consultants. It is a hard leap from the drawing board to the actual roadway, which serves as a main route from Santa Monica to Ocean Park Blvd. already loaded with traffic, leading to adjoining areas.
Greg Fry December 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
So the idea is to discourage outside business in the Bergamot Station area--which involves minimal intrusion into the city--while encouraging such intrusion downtown?
Dan Charney December 19, 2012 at 09:56 PM
The idea is to discourage any more of these ill thought and badly planned expansions anywhere that serve developers at the cost of more congestion and taxing of our services and the drain on our already existing commercial areas. One more area of boring condos, the ton of people they bring is not needed in our town. What is needed is a council that knows how to balance a budget- hold down development- and stop literally destroying whatever is left- that area is already impossible to navigate at many hours of the day. To call it the "Spine" is frightening. Right out of Stephen King. What an ugly name. I guess downtown will keep being ruined until it's the neutered lower part of the body of Santa Monica.
Brenda Barnes January 04, 2013 at 09:33 PM
I was at the Planning Commission meeting, and was embarrassed for everyone involved in this ill-thought-out, totally incompetently done so-called plan. Children would be embarrassed to come up with this. It is so impractical, for one thing. As Gregg says, not being able to start the traffic again and make it work at Olympic after a light at Nebraska and Stewart is elementary. That should have caused these so-called planners to drop the idea completely. Secondly, the whole plan suggests the same-old 5-story mixed use buildings with two levels of subterranean parking that have destroyed the rest of the City where put in to date, with the "ground-floor retail" that was to "enliven neighborhoods" and has instead resulted in empty storefronts years later in LA and every place else it has been tried.. Third, the area is riddled with geological hazards and less than a mile from a major earthquake fault, so any planner should know better than to suggest such high development in the area. Finally, the area is not even in Bergamot as defined in LUCE. The City got over $600,000 federal government money to do a Bergamot Area Plan because it is about a transit station. Instead, they used the money to do a plan for the area east and north of Bergamot. So you see why planners who suggested it should have been embarrassed. Worse, though, the Planning Commission did nothing to say this whole idea is ridiculous. That is far more embarrassing.

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