They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, but then they converted it into medium-density housing — at least, that’s the plan for a stretch of 5th Street in Downtown Santa Monica. Two new apartment buildings from developer WS Communities are under architectural review following a presentation to the board on Tuesday, January 21st. 

Photo: Kelsey Pudloski

1323 5th Street, currently a small, privately-owned parking lot wedged between an office building and an unoccupied retail space, is anticipated to become a six-story residential building with 11 apartments, 41 single-room occupancy units and approximately 1,870 square feet of ground-floor retail space. 

Single-room occupancy units (SROs) are often associated with run-down boarding houses, but that’s certainly not the case with new construction rental buildings, many of which feature modern finishes and top-notch amenity spaces. The City of Santa Monica has been pushing for more new construction micro apartments by incentivizing developers to build them. Most of the SROs at 1323 5th Street will be leased at market-rate, but nine will be set aside for low-income individuals.

Among the market-rate apartments are one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations, ranging from 478 to 1,656 square feet. While there will be no onsite parking, 72 bike stalls will be available to residents and their guests.

Designed by KFA Architecture, the current renderings exhibit industrial warehouse-style windows, angled balconies with warm wood inlays, dark grey corrugated metal cladding, a first-floor courtyard with cafe seating, and a landscaped rooftop with common amenities like a barbecue, fire pit and pergola.

Photo: Kelsey Pudloski

The second development in the works is located at 1338 5th Street, a larger parking lot that’s directly across the street from the 501 Santa Monica Boulevard Garage. While also designed with six stories, this multi-use project is slated to feature 94 SROs, 26 market-rate apartments and ground-floor retail space.

Fewer details are known about this under-review development, but the latest rendering suggests there will be similarly angled balconies with glass and cable railing systems, a partial green roof on the third floor and a swanky rooftop amenity space.

Of course, a surge in SROs will help to diversify the supply of housing, but rents for new construction market-rate micro apartments may still be out of reach for many Angeleons.

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