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Monday, April 14, 2014

Former Red Car trolley property being marketed as Silver Lake’s next big development site

Red Car property for sale is highlighted in yellow. Map from LoopNet.com

A ribbon of land where the legendary Red Car trolley once rumbled through the hills and canyons of northeast Silver Lake has served as an unofficial neighborhood greenbelt – as well as dumping ground – since the last street car traveled down this path more than half a century ago.  Now, the former Red Car right-of-way has been put up for sale as a potential development site where more than 170 homes could be built, according to brokers handling the sale. But neighborhood activist Diane Edwardson, whose Corralitas Red Car Property blog is named after the approximately 10-acre strip of land,  disputes that figure and doubts the most recent attempt to sell and develop the land will go very far.

“Developers have tried and failed to develop the Red Car Property for more than 30 years,” said Edwardson. “Even when they’ve gotten entitlements, they failed to develop the property.”

The Hoffman Co.,  a land broker,  is marketing the property as “The Meadow at Silverlake.”  Much of  the property consists of an approximately 100-foot wide ribbon of land that bulges out at the tips, which are described in the listing as “potential development nodes,” according to the sales listing on LoopNet.   No asking price was provided.  The Meadow at Silverlake is “the last piece of land between East Hollywood and Boyle Heights that is residentially-zoned, buildable and is not already spoken for by a developer,” according to the listing.

While the listing claims there is “the potential to build up to 178 homes” on the property,  Edwardson said that only five duplexes could be built without a public hearing.

Edwardson and other Silver Lake neighbors were working to preserve the property as open space several years ago when the current owner purchased it for about $360,000, she said.

“Anyone who thinks they can make a killing on the Red Car Property would do well to review all the previous City Planning case files for the site,” Edwardson said.  “This neighborhood organizes like no other.”

49 comments

  1. They would suffer my wrath as well!

  2. And organize we will! Preservation of that land is so important… not to mention it’s my favorite route to walk and do that whole, you know, exercise thing.

  3. Preserve it and turn it into a pollinator pathway. http://www.pollinatorpathway.com/

  4. I used to walk that route myself. Great piece of history. I hope it remains as is.

  5. Imagine if this entire site were developed with those small-lot subdivisions that seem to be what more and more developers are building. This thanks to the law providing for such pushed through by Garcetti.

  6. Hey how bout bringing the red car back?

  7. ahhh, Capitalisim

  8. Perhaps the small lot subdivision needs to be restricted to commercial corridors and walkable / transit accessible locations. And there should be a few design rules like facing the front door to the street, minimizing driveways and tucking the parking in the back. The idea is to have compact townhomes in walkable neighborhoods and transit corridors, not car-centric shoebox fortresses up in the hills.

    • ALL locations are transit accessible! MTA seeks to have no more than a 1/4 mile walk to transit for all locations. This Red Car site certainly is close to transit.

      I say these small lot subdivisions belong ONLY in their own zone, no differently than a trailer park. No, not along the commercial strips, but their own separated zone.

      Your ideas are sensible, but they can’t be applied to these monstrosities. You can’t have a driveway next to it to lead to the back — the lots are too small for that! You have missed the point of how small these things are!

      These things are not merely “compact.” They are just too small. So much so that they don’t even have two rooms on any one level; to go from room to room requires going up and down stairs! No one wants to live like that — and they won’t. It will not be used by anyone as a longterm place to live, will merely be VERY transient like a trailer park — and accordingly will be poorly maintained and over the years become slums.

      And once these lots are divided up into undersized lots, you will never bee able to get them back to normal size lots again. These will never be able to revert back to normal size lots when down the line it becomes blatantly obvious what a mistake they are.

      • Well I think the term “transit accessible” is loosely thrown around in this city, with many bus lines regularly running at 45 minute headways in the middle of the day. But I suppose this location has adequate bus service to Glendale and Downtown LA for commuters. However a lot of the accessibility comes down to the design of the buildings and streets.

        First of all, the houses would be up on a hill. And judging by the existing street layout (Silver Lake Ct.), it’s very likely they would be built in a way that minimizes convenient pedestrian access to Rowena/Fletcher/Glendale (no staircases or entry points making 2 or 3 blocks “as the crow flies”, into a mile and a half schlep if you’re forced to backtrack east towards Allesandro.)

        That aside, they can definitely put parking in the back. It’s done in other apartment corridors by connecting all the buildings (like row homes) with an alley in the back. This maintains a strong pedestrian realm by removing unnecessary curb cuts and driveways along the front of the street. They could also just put angled preferential street parking along the curbs, but I suppose that might require the city update it’s arcane “one size fits all” parking policies (here’s an example of angled parking to fit more cars: http://microstockinsider.com/files/freeimages/sanfrancisco_slope_5958.preview.jpg)

        Most urban planners agree that separating housing from shops and transit is the very reason why traffic and sprawl is so gnarly in LA. All that does is just decentralize everything, requiring more freeways and parking spaces instead of charming walkable neighborhoods with parks and shops and whatnot.

        • This area doesn’t actually have adequate bus service for anywhere, commuters or not. Looking at the system map, the 92 and the 603 go down Glendale Blvd, but both are infrequent buses, and I think even the closest part of this property is a 15 minute walk to those stops. The 2, 4, and 704 on Sunset are much better buses, but that might be a 20 minute walk. And being up on a hill like this, these spots wouldn’t be very bike friendly. So every single house there would come with a car or two, which really isn’t very good. It’s one of the
          least transit accessible parts of Los Angeles, in fact!

  9. as a resident of Silver Lake, I am totally against any development on the Red Car Line and will actively protest should any sale or development actually move forward. There are no streets that reach the Red Car line except one or two that are near the elementary school. Not a good step 1 – “lets add access roads next to a school with small kids”. LA could take a cue from the Highline in NYC and create a defined green area that can help build the value of the current homes there and boost the tax base, which is what most new build approvals are after anyway – getting more tax $$$

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_%28New_York_City%29

    • GENIUS!!!! YES!!! Well hell, it’s already there except for the trash… add a few nice plantings a decent walk path with some cool architectural features (like the high line’s faux historical rails) and you have a unique urban outdoor rec space.

  10. I wish there was a wealthy patron who would buy the Red Car Turnaround and set up the SIlverlake Nature Conservancy. But if wishes were nickels . . . .

    • I agree! I live in the adjacent condos and we would love the preservation of the trail, land, hill. As it is, it makes us all nervous to walk around the Arco with the myriad of homeless that hide on the bottom of the hill. I cannot imagine anyone agreeing to live of pay for these so called lots.

  11. Who owns the land right now?

    Howie: A real EIR and traffic study would take care of the school concern. Notice how I said real EIR and not what is going on in Downtown recently.

    • Yes, a real EIR (Environmental Impact Report) would see the ridiculousness of anything beyond 6-12 units due to it’s inaccessibility. When they (the land developers in tandem with the inept city) planned these local hill streets back in 1925-29 they built them as narrow as possible to have as many lots as possible (kinda like now) so the streets are all 16-18ft wide (enough for about two cars side by side) which is ridiculously narrow for anything that would triple the current number of ‘units’ using the two possible access streets the lots have.

  12. This is really scary, and sad — especially after the razing of the Spiritualist tract on Alessandro. Such a pity this couldn’t be reserved as open space.

    From the loopnet ad: “There is potential to develop for up to 178 residential units.” On 10.19 acres?! Boy, let’s really jam them in.

  13. 97 stairs (and everyone else): instead of waiting for a wealthy patron, how about trying to organize the neighborhood to buy the lot and donate it to the city or a non-profit nature conservancy? I’ll put up the first $1,000 if someone gets serious about doing this.

    • Great idea! That’s what the people in Eagle Rock did when developers wanted to build around the Eagle Rock.

      • As the listing agent on this site and as someone who knows the local culture, players, etc. very well, I already reached out to Diane prior to this listing being put on Loopnet. I suggested that she meet with me to discuss this being purchased for the purposes of becoming a park. I have not heard back, but am not waiting for her, as she said she is too busy. I have put out feelers to CD13 and others groups who might be able to put funding sources together for this. As I said, I reached out to the person who has a blog dedicated to this property and the person that everyone seems to consider as the expert on this site, and it hasn’t gone anywhere, so if anyone else wants to step up and lead the charge on putting together the effort to buy the site feel free to contact me. When it comes to this site, or any of the other sites that have been sold to developers over the past few years in the area, remember anyone can buy them, not just developers. I have done what I dont think any other broker usually does, I have purposely reached out to the community letting them know of this opportunity and that it’s their’s to possibly be had if they want to put the effort and time into it.
        bbrislin@hoffmanland.com

        • Wow, I didn’t drop everything to meet with a realtor who probably wants way to much for the property and is “accepting offers.” Put a price on it.

          I told him I could meet after June 30. Just because I didn’t drop everything to meet with you immediately, does not mean I haven’t set the wheels in motion. I do not get paid to defend my neighborhood from developers.

          Considering the current owners haven’t even cleared the dead trees on the property that are piled 12 feet high from last December’s windstorm, I don’t put a lot of faith that the owner will work with us.

          I’ve been leading this community for 20 of the 22 years I’ve lived here.

        • Bryant–can we assume that the owner is interested in selling the property to the community for the same price originally paid for it? Hope you’re not too surprised if we don’t leap at the chance to further enrich your client after the poor stewardship they’ve shown the place.

          • Russell, if you want to contact me to discuss, we can get into details or we can meet. I’m in the area on Monday and can discuss in person. We all know, realistically, that people buy land for the purposes of investment and expect to make a return on that. As far as the stewardship of the land, I can’t comment for the owner, but I can say that as someone who has walked the property multiple times over the past two years, it’s intriguing the way people have taken over (the preschool for parking, people expanding their backyards, people dumping things, people storing their construction equipment, etc.) so they basically are squatters who want to enjoy the use of the land and the benefits, but when it comes to maitenance they suddenly revert back to the owner and point fingers. If I decided tomorrow to live in a vacant house that you owned, without your permission, would it be fair for me to complain that your plumbing doesn’t work or your grass isn’t cut? I know we will probably never seen eye-to-eye on this issue, but we can sit down and discuss how anyone can buy this property at a price to be determined. bbrislin@hoffmanland.com

        • Bryant, it is not a fair assessment of the property to look at a few abuses of some neighbors and declare that the property has been misused by the community at large. You quickly dismiss any negligence of the property owner yet you hone in on a few problems by a small number of adjacent homes. By a large margin the red car property is used and maintained by the vast number of casual strollers, dog walkers and nature lovers. In addition; numerous neighbors that abut the property spend time and money cleaning, planting and keeping watch to insure that the property is safe and beautified.
          There is neither doubt nor shame that the owners bought the property as an investment. Yet within one year of their purchase of this property for $360K they were offered a very handsome price of nearly $900K by the parks conservancy and they declined. The 250% profit was apparently not enough; instead they were holding out for $10 million.
          That was an opportunity to both make a windfall of money with little effort on their part and simultaneously do something wonderful for the neighborhood. Greed, I believe was the determining factor then; what will be a fair price now?

    • me too. contact SLNC for starters

  14. ridiculous concept withstanding, their inability to spell the community name correctly should disqualify the developer from proceeding. :)

  15. Over my dead body!

  16. Better make sure Garcetti never becomes Mayor or the whole city will look like Hollywood. Up zoned corridors of huge developments.

    • You may notice that Garcetti supports bigger development in Hollywood next to the red line, but the community plan calls for decreased density in other areas. If he is as sensible as I think he is, he wouldn’t support increased density in such a car-dependent part of the neighborhood.

  17. Lets raise money, purchase the land, and make it into a park!

  18. For 12 years these owner/developers have neglected the property and its maintenance. No brush clearance, no response to neighbors or the neighborhood at large. They are not in Silverlake or even on the east side; they have been completely absent strangers only interested in getting rich, not improving our neighborhood. The city has had to hire crews to clear and maintain the property using our tax payer dollars. Do you think the owners have paid the bills? Have they paid the property taxes?
    Yet you can bet that the city council and local politicians will get behind the first shoddy development plans that come their way. Have you ever met an honest developer? How about one that you like?

  19. To Bryant B. Diane is a volunteer who has worked on the Red Car Property issues over 20 years. She has stepped up every time there is activity regarding the property and we (Red Car Property neighbors) have all benefitted from her efforts. I’m grateful we have a leader who is both capable and inscrutably honest. Your comments implied that Diane’s more than 20 year effort is insincere or superficial because she did not drop everything to meet with you when it fit your timetable. How many years have you been working on this project? Oh, did I mention that Diane is a volunteer? from a 32 year Red Car Property neighbor

    • Eartha, I agree, I have the same respect for Diane, I have told her that as someone who has been reading her blog for almost three years, that I think she does an amazing job documenting the area’s history, etc. I think I was just thrown off, because there was so much negativity in the article above and no mention at all that I have made an effort with her and other stakeholders in the area to work with me. If one of the typical large commercial brokerages from west LA was working on this, they would treat it more as a commodity that’s “close to downtown LA”. I know the history and who the players are, so I’m making an effort. Anyway, Diane and I have re-connected and hopefully we’ll be meeting soon. All is well.

  20. I, for one, deeply appreciate Diane’s tireless and unpaid efforts to keep our community from being swarmed by developers. We need to respect that she has a life outside of community activism, though, and she may not respond as quickly as some would like, but respond she will. And so will this community!

  21. I have been amazed by Diane’s tireless work over the years to protect the natural areas in Silver Lake. Thank you Diane! We all need to work together to support her in her efforts to save this beautiful area from being destroyed and commercialized. The beauty of where we live lies in the fact that it is urban and natural at the same time. Keep up the great work Diane. We are behind you 100 percent!

  22. Red Car Neighbors

    My wife and I have lived with the Red Car Property as our backyard for many years. We have been part of many of the successful push backs of developers over the years and we have Diane to thank for this. We are very busy business owners, without Diane’s dedication to this neighborhood and the Red Car Property specifically we would have been left in the dark for many years. Her work has contributed to the neighborhood not being taken by surprise and duped by developers. Her along with others have actually come up with viable alternatives to massive development. We DO NOT want contractors to strip this land and have it end up a wasteland as so many failed developments around LA have in the recent past, with no regard for the neighborhood, lost wildlife and history of the area. We will be there to support this push back and the next. Keep up the great work.

  23. Yes, kudos to Diane! She has done so much to bring attention to all sorts of important neighborhood issues.

  24. The City of Los Angeles or Santa Monica Conservancy really needs to step in and save this plot from development. Not only does this city DESPERATELY need more green spaces and parks this is an important area for the maintenance of wildlife in our community. The hooded orioles and great horned owls alone are worth the effort! I hope Garcetti can help!

  25. Hopefully this corridor can be preserved as a greenbelt, open space, nature preserve but that doesn’t justify some of the critiques above about about small lot subdivisions. If you want to preserve open space you need denser residential development where people already live.

  26. A new hospital will create new jobs and provide a new development in the city of Los Angeles. The new development could help improve our lagging economy, especially in this area. Regardless if either Barlow or anyone else has the land, the piece of land will eventually get developed. In Southern California, land is way too expensive to leave nothing on it. Beside, Barlow has owed the land for over 100+ years and developing a new hospital is vital to the community, especially to ventilator weaning patients.

    Traffic is already a mess just being in Los Angeles, not to mention the traffic created by the Dodgers – Everyone CELEBRATED when Dodgers where sold and I’ll bet they will re-develop the stadium.

    Barlow is part of Los Angeles’ history and should continue to be part of it’s future.

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