LA OK’s skyscraper project near Echo Park and Chinatown

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday cleared the way for a cluster of new high-rises that would bring more than 700 homes to the edge of Echo Park and Chinatown, and set the stage for the first skyscraper to be built in that area of ​​the city. built .

On a 12-0 the council voted down the final procedural hurdle for the 1111 Sunset project, which would drastically rebuild the area by adding two towers — one 49-story, the other 30 — as well as a 17-story high-rise and approximately two- to four-story structures .

The project, planned by LA-based Palisades Capital Partners, could include a hotel, commercial space along Sunset Boulevard and 737 residential units. If the developer decides to drop the hotel concept, the project can grow to 827 units.

Councilor Gil Cedillo, who represents the area, was absent from the meeting. But he voted in favor of the project last week, calling it “transformational” when it was reviewed by the council’s planning committee.

Brian Falls, Palisades’ vice president of development, welcomed the council’s move and said his company was working closely on the project with several unions, including unions representing carpenters and hotel workers. The developers have also worked to ensure that the project covers two acres of open space, with courtyards, gardens and views of the downtown skyline, he said.

“We are proud that so many local residents and businesses in the area are supporting the project,” Falls said in a statement.

The project, first proposed in 2018, will not lead to the demolition of existing housing unitsNevertheless, it has come under fire from tenant rights advocates, who fear the project will spur nearby landlords to raise their rents.

Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, a neighborhood group working to fight gentrification, criticized the developer for reserving only 76 units within the complex — about 10% of the total — for low-income residents.

“We definitely see it as a new mega-development that is not serving the community,” said Patrick Chen, an organizer of the group. “What we need is affordable housing in large quantities, not market-based housing.”

Chen’s group, which has spoken out against competitive housing in Chinatown and other low-income communities, sent a letter last year warning that 1111 Sunset would “promote the process of gentrification and displacement.” The organization also claims the towers will cast large shadows, affecting the ability of families and seniors to “stay physically and mentally healthy.”

Gentrification, rising rents and real estate development were key themes during Cedillo’s reelection campaign. He lost to community activist Eunisses Hernandez, who called for greater tenant protection and pledged to be “the biggest barrier” to market-leading housing. (The election results won’t be officially certified until Friday.)

Hernandez, who will be sworn in at the end of the year, said she doesn’t know enough about 1111 Sunset to judge the details. But she said she has heard from neighborhood attorneys who say the project is not meeting the needs of the community.

“We are at a time when we really need to prioritize very affordable housing, and 10% is not enough in my view,” she said.

Wednesday’s vote was described as the final step in the project planning approval process. As a result, Hernandez would not have the power to intervene once she took office.

Called 1111 Sunset, the project could include a hotel and 737 residential units on the edge of Echo Park and Chinatown.

(Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Chen said he hopes that in the future, Hernandez will force other developers in the district to provide a greater share of affordable units in their projects. In recent years, his group has fought in court to overturn the city’s approval of College Station, a 725-unit market-leading project planned near a light rail station in Chinatown.

Chinatown Community for Equitable Development has also urged the city to buy Hillside Villa, an apartment building in Chinatown where dozens of tenants are facing steep rent increases.

The 1111 Sunset complex is planned in an area mainly occupied by buildings no higher than three floors. An exception is the Elysian, an eight-storey residential building that once housed the headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District.

The city’s planning committee approved the environmental assessment for 1111 Sunset in February. On Wednesday, the council approved an ordinance allowing the developer to build on a small portion of property that was off-limits under city planning rules.

The 49-storey tower is planned on that part of the site.

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