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New AMC Will Worsen Downtown Traffic, Report Says

A parking garage with 344 vehicle spots would be eliminated as part of the theater proposal.

Gridlock at some of Santa Monica's busiest downtown intersections could be further snarled by a proposed movie theater on Fourth Street at Arizona Avenue, and there's little the city could do to alleviate the congestion, according to a new environmental report.

The report forecasts increased traffic midday on weekends at Fourth and Colorado Avenue, during peak afternoon hours at Fourth and Broadway and in the mornings and midday on weekends at Lincoln and Santa Monica boulevards.

Further worsening traffic, the 12-screen theater is proposed to be built where Parking Structure No. 3 stands today, requiring the demolition of 344 precious sparking spaces. There are no plans to build parking on-site.

During the busiest times of day, cars would cruise the streets from one packed parking garage to another, worsening traffic at the impacted intersections, according to the report.

"While mitigation may reduce cruising behavior, there is no certainty as to how many vehicle trips would be reduced at affected intersections," the report states.

The public has until Nov. 26 to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Report, which was prepared by Rincon Consultants, Inc. for the city and released Oct. 10.

The City Council requested bids from interested companies for a new movie theater at the site of Parking Structure No. 3, which is city-owned property, in 2007. Its request called for a contemporary cinema, with ground-floor retail or restaurant space and underground parking.

In 2009, it picked AMC, which already operates three movie theaters in downtown. AMC is proposing 70,000 square feet of gross floor space, including 2,167 theater seats, 2,500 square feet of retail tenant space and 2,250 square feet of indoor restaurant/lounge space open to the public. The retail and restaurant spaces would primarily serve movie customers, the report states.

As part of the project, the AMC proposes to eliminate 1,597 theater seats from its other downtown locations. The Environmental Impact Report says the reduction could result in one or more of the existing theaters closing.

The project requires a development agreement with the City Council because it would exceed the zone's building size restrictions. The concessions to be offered in exchange will be negotiated later.

Send the city your feedback by writing to Roxanne Tanemori, senior planner, by 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26, 2012.

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Brenda Barnes October 24, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I like Monica Bey's idea of remodeling the Sears store to keep its facade and go green with that enormous parking lot. A permanent farmers' market so streets are not blocked twice a week sounds great, too. The store could even be kept where it is with building over it, as at Grand Central Station. All kinds of things would work, but another theater, AND on 4th Street, AND with less parking? Just about the worst combination conceivable. It is another iteration of what I see constantly in SM--developers sniff out a property and then try to shoehorn an idea of overdevelopment into a totally inappropriate space. The Council agrees because this Council always agrees with any development that will bring money into their coffers to spend on things like $55 MILLION for two parks between City Hall and the beach. Actually, the true purpose of everything this Council does is to guarantee their own future employment and campaign contributions. Corruption that cannot be believed without thorough investigation plagues us. I say throw all of them out and start over. John C. Smith, Armen Markelians, Bob Seldon and Jon Mann all sound good. (How appropriate their initials make Santa Monica for Santa Monicans!) I don't know if Ted Winterer and Richard McKinnon can be trusted given their association with the current corrupt Council, but they sound good too. From some group we need specific plans for a livable City again, not one for tourists and developers.
Nan Jefferies November 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
There's a detailed story on the planned development of the AMC on Fourth Street in the fall 2012 issue of "THE BEAT," the newsletter of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. If you can't find it online and are interested in what's going on in the downtown area, sign up to receive a copy by writing Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., 1351 Third Street Promenade, Suite 2012, Santa Monica, CA 90401 or call 310.393.8355.
Brenda Barnes November 06, 2012 at 01:33 PM
This is the link, and it's pages 9-12: http://downtownsm.com/sites/default/files/Fall%20Beat%202012_0.pdf This is obviously a whitewashed, pro-development view of it. The truth is far different. The Draft EIR says it will significantly increase the traffic problems at all the affected intersections--which is everything around it and all the way to the freeway and east, so most of the City except the white, rich area north of Montana--and that such worsening is unavoidable. One would have thought, before watching the current Council approve development after development where the EIRs said that, that such a finding would mean change the project significantly, or it won't be approved. Not so in SM today, unless and until the Council changes. Nothing stops Davis, Bloom, O'Day, Holbrook, and O'Connor from approving a development. They are bought and paid for developer lapdogs, with no concern whatever for residents.
Two Cents December 27, 2012 at 04:25 AM
The theaters on the promenade should be renovated instead of being relocated to other areas of the downtown. This should happen in conjunction with a full renovation of the promenade itself. Other destinations like the Westfield mall in Century City, the Grove, and the mall in Marina del Rey have been updated and have become more enjoyable. The focus in downtown should be to catch up with these destinations by improving our existing amenities aesthetically, facilitating parking, improving existing services and adding new desirable services (convenient valet, kids corner, car detail, shoe shine, etc). Moving a theater from one part of downtown to another merely shifts traffic without adding much to the enjoyment of the area. It would successfully boost real estate values in other areas of the city by stimulating higher rents there, but it could leave dark storefronts where the theaters were once located with consequently declining land values.
Brenda Barnes December 27, 2012 at 09:50 AM
I agree that there should be no theater on 4th Street, but how often are things going to be rebuilt anyway? First we had to have Third Street completely changed and people say now it's the pearl of the city or something. Then along comes someone with an idea to serve food at the movies and all of a sudden we have to "update" to do that? Why not just let different places be different? Are we in some kind of contest to see who's newest? I don't think so.

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