The hotly debated real estate developments in NELA this year include the plan by the City of Los Angeles to build housing on five city-owned parking lots in Lincoln Heights and the proposal by StorQuest to build a huge storage facility in Eagle Rock.
The Lincoln Heights project is moving ahead, basically on schedule. The storage facility in Eagle Rock has been put on ice, for now.
Here’s the latest:
Parking Lots to Houses
A community meeting on the parking lot conversions was held on Sept. 13 at the Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights. It was the fifth of six planned meetings on the project, which will create a mix of affordable housing for lower income tenants and permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
At the meeting, the developers –Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS) and GTM Holdings – asked for input on the preferred architectural style of the buildings. Most of the roughly 25 people at the meeting said they would like Spanish or Craftsman-style buildings rather than modern architecture.
Channa Grace, the president of WORKS, and Adrienne Bussell, a spokesperson for GTM Holdings, also took questions. For the most part, people were concerned about potential parking problems. Ms. Grace said that the City’s plan requires 261 replacement parking spots for the
261 spots that will be removed, in addition to parking for the new apartments.
Some of the people who spoke at the meeting expressed opposition to the project itself. The objections echoed those expressed when the project launched late last year, namely, that Lincoln Heights is being unfairly singled out as a place to build housing for the homeless. Although City officials have expressed great interest in converting public parking lots to housing, many L.A. neighborhoods, including Eagle Rock and Highland Park, have no city-owned lots slated yet for development.
Those opposed to the project were not as numerous or vocal as at earlier meetings. In any event, the project is moving ahead despite the lingering opposition. The City owns the property and, in the end, city officials get to decide what to do with it. The information website for the project, LincolnHeights5.com, notes that the developers hope to be “in the ground” within 18 months.
There will be one more community meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10 , from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Church Auditorium in Lincoln Heights (2821 Baldwin St.). At that meeting, WORKS will report on the input from the previous meetings. Those findings will then be summarized into a report and presented to city officials.
Storage Facility Update
A hearing at the City Planning Commission on whether to approve a StorQuest facility in Eagle Rock, scheduled for Oct. 11, has been cancelled. No new date has been set and any further consideration of the project by City Planning is currently on hold.
This is the third time in the last five months that the Commission has put off deciding on the project.
The hearing was cancelled at the request of Mee Semcken, the developer’s politically connected consultant, who told City Planning that the seller had lost faith in StorQuest’s ability to do a deal in the face of opposition to the project by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC).
That’s odd, because in recent months, the ERNC softened its opposition to the proposal, going from a flat- out “No” to implying that a storage facility on the site could be acceptable if it included ample space for community use. In effect, the notion that a storage-facility-plus-community-space might be okay has aligned the ERNC more closely with the StorQuest effort to build the facility than with many ERNC stakeholders who have said they do not want a storage facility on the site, period.
If the sticking point is how much community space the facility would be required to have, then the solution comes down to a negotiation between the seller and the developer. The more community space that must be included, the less profitable the storage facility would be, and the less the developer would be willing to pay for the property.
Bottom line: It’s unclear what will happen next, but it would be naïve to assume that the game is over.
Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.