When it comes to building next to a freeway, it’s best to keep your distance

Studio Villas project site

Homes will face away from Glendale Boulevard

Many urban planners favor developments that are built close to the street and feature a welcoming facade to create an attractive sidewalk and street scene. But what happens when the street happens to serve as the southbound exit of the 2 Freeway on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake?  Well, then apparently different rules apply. The urban design issue came up as Harridge Development Group seeks support to build 45 homes on a 1-1/2 acre parcel located where the 2 Freeway dumps thousands of cars on to Glendale Boulevard. Harridge wants the homes in its Studio Villas development  to face away from Glendale Boulevard and the freeway and to be set back about 20 feet from the busy street.

In a meeting with the developer, some of the members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s urban design committee expressed concern that Studio Villas would serve as a poor gateway to the neighborhood by presenting its backside to oncoming motorists.  However, the group ended up endorsing the project after recommending that a more varied and articulated facade face Glendale Boulevard. They also recommended the developer install heavy-duty air filtration systems in each home to scrub all that vehicle exhaust.

In addition to the challenges of designing and selling homes next to a freeway offramp, Harridge must also contend with the rebuilding of the southern tip of the 2 freeway.  Lan Saadatnejadi with Metro’s highway program said the first phase of a the project could begin in about two years when the southbound offramp will be metered and re-stripped to create two lanes.

Despite the freeway adjacent issues, Marc Annotti of Harridge Development, which also plans to build 26  additional homes on an adjacent lot, remains confident in the project’s appeal to buyers.  Homes will be priced between $400,000 to $500,000.

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  1. The setback is good — and in fact, all buildings should be set back some appropriate amount. One of the major design problems all over Los Angeles that makes it crap is the lack of setbacks. We have narrow sidewalks all over, and the builders are allowed to build right up to the sidewalk, leaving a squeeze play between the building and the traffic on the street. We need both setbacks as the routine, and wide sidewalks in commercial areas (wide enough sidewalks might actually use the setback area). But then, that would make for that much less floor space-square footage for developers who want to maximize profit, and this city yields good planning to developers’ greed.

    Setbacks, and wide sidewalks in commercial areas, are critical to the feeling of any street. They give a sense of space rather than a sense of being closed in. They allow for streetscaping or other beautification.

    For instance, in New York, you see a lot of restaurants with seating on the sidewalk. Amazingly, there was never much of that in sunny Los Angeles, certainly largely for lack of sidewalk space. Now, we are getting that — but by businesses just taking over the narrow sidewalk as their own, leaving very little for pedestrians to walk along.

  2. What a pile of crap!!!!!!

  3. Who in their right mind would pay that much money to live off a freeway?!In a condo for that matter, off the freeway?! These developers have been inhaling too many car fumes…..

  4. What about The Mime?

  5. Location Location Location, off the 2 fwy – No Bueno

  6. With prices like these, I guess we need more stimulus and lower interest rates and loan forgiveness to boost housing prices. I guess we want housing prices high so that they will be affordable. At least, that seems to be the logic going on.

  7. So there is some 2 Freeway construction action pending? I’m delighted though my opinion is not shared by other Echo Park residents. Still waiting for the followup meetings rendering decisions to the issues discussed at the school in Echo Park about a year or so ago.

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