$1.8M per unit marks latest chapter in colorful history of SaMo apartments

Price for oceanfront complex among California’s highest ever

Los Angeles /
Oct.October 27, 2021 05:57 AM
301 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica and Clo Hoover, the first female mayor of Santa Monica (301ocean, Calisphere)
301 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica and Clo Hoover, the first female mayor of Santa Monica (301ocean, Calisphere)

A Santa Monica apartment building with a controversial history has fetched a historic price.

The 38-unit building at 301 Ocean Avenue sold for $70 million, or $1.84 million per unit. The sale was announced earlier this month by CBRE, which represented the seller.

CBRE called the $1.84 million tag among the highest on record in California, although the sale’s precise rank is unclear.

In a release, Laurie Lustig-Bower, one of the two CBRE agents on the deal, said the brokerage “was pleased to have achieved a record-setting price for the seller and to have assisted an international buyer in acquiring this trophy asset.”

The international buyer is an unnamed Asian investor who views the property as “a generational asset,” broker Eric Chen said in the release. The sale does not yet appear in public records.

The seller was Marquis Property Company, a Malibu-based firm which has bought and developed a variety of projects, including multifamily, mixed-use and industrial properties, throughout Southern California.

The remodeled luxury building, located on a 38,000 square-foot property approximately 1,000 feet from Santa Monica’s beachfront, features a large courtyard and yoga studio. Studios — smaller than 400 square-feet — are leasing for $3,800 to $4,100 per month, and two-bedroom apartments are leasing from $8,500 to more than $11,000.

Marquis bought the Ocean Avenue complex for $21 million from Trammell Crow Company in 2013, when it began a complete overhaul of what was then a “boarded up 1950s era apartment complex,” according to Marquis’ website.

They also bought an unusual piece of local history.

The apartment complex, which for decades featured 47 units, was built in 1952 by Chester and Clo Hoover, would go on to become the first female mayor of Santa Monica. The Hoovers also lived in the building, including during Clo’s 14-year tenure on City Council and two-year mayorship in the 1970s. Clo Hoover often entertained celebrities at the airy residence and stayed there until her death in 1997.

A decade later, before Marquis’ entry, the property was the subject of a fierce land use battle.

In 2007, after Trammell Crow bought the property, the Dallas-based developer filed plans to knock down the World War II-era complex and build luxury condos. The developer began evicting long-term tenants, some of whom were rent controlled. Tenants and community activists launched a campaign to have the complex listed as a historical landmark, based on its connection to Hoover.
The designation battle, meant to keep both the tenants and the building, also became a proxy fight over development in residential neighborhoods in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica City Council granted the building historic landmark status in 2009, only to revoke it the following year, finding the building’s connection to Hoover too thin a basis. The reversal came after a challenge from Trammell Crow.

Four years later, after the tenants were gone, Marquis decided to overhaul the complex rather than knock it down entirely.

“The buildings won’t be demolished, but the lives of 47 households, my neighbors, were demolished,” then-mayor Kevin McKeown told the Santa Monica Daily Press in 2015. “After waiting five years so the former rent-control tenants have no rights, another developer is going to gussy up the property and command top-dollar rents for the homes where those 47 families should have been left to live their lives in peace.”

Marquis completed its redevelopment in 2017, designing the residencies with “modern beach-chic style motifs.”

Santa Monica has long ranked among L.A.’s priciest residential markets.

Clo Hoover, news outlets have pointed out, was herself actually a staunch opponent of rent control.





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