News & Advocacy

New Mills Act Contracts Approved 

November 1, 2016

At the October 25th City Council meeting, Santa Monica’s most important preservation incentive was granted to the owners of two designated city landmarks, 504 Pier Avenue and 305 Alta Avenue, and six contributing structures within the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District.  A Mills Act contract enables a property tax reduction for owners who commit to an approved plan of restoration and maintenance.

EJ Vawter House, Mills Act Contract, 504 Pier

The properties represent a diverse selection of Santa Monica’s recently designated structures. The two-story E.J. Vawter house at 504 Pier is a rare hybrid example of Queen Anne and American Foursquare styles. It was designated a City Landmark in September 2014 based on its unique architecture, association with the locally prominent Vawter family, and exemplary representation of the shift from rural to urban culture in Ocean Park during the early 20th century.

The two-story Mel Uhl house at 305 Alta is a Mediterranean/Classical Revival-styled single-family residence. It was designated in August 2015 as an embodiment of the early development of the Palisades Tract and as an excellent example of its architectural style.

The San Vicente Historic District was designated in December 2015 as Santa Monica’s most significant and cohesive concentration of architecturally noteworthy courtyard buildings constructed between 1930 and 1953 featuring abundant open green space and harmonious scale.  The contributing buildings represent a variety of architectural styles on San Vicente Blvd.:

  • 150-156, Overcliff Manor, a Mid-Century Modern apartment complex
  • 212, the only Streamline Moderne-styled apartment complex in the district
  • 234, Villa Vicente, a Mid-Century Modern apartment complex
  • 302-312, The Nida Apartments, one of the few American Colonial Revival-styled complexes in the district
  • 437-441, a Minimal Traditional apartment complex
  • 614-618, an apartment complex combining American Colonial Revival style with Hollywood Regency elements in a stylistic courtyard setting

These properties bring the City’s total number of Mills Act contracts to 71, with the reduction in the City’s property tax receipts for these six properties estimated at $34,745 beginning in FY 2017-2018.  The actual amount of the property tax reduction will be set by the County Tax Assessor’s office, which must determine the value of the historic property based upon its current net operating income, rather than upon the traditional assessed valuation method, resulting, in most cases, in a property tax reduction.

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