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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Condo developer wants to bring Venice Beach style to York Boulevard

Highland Park, real estate

“Toaster” is a placeholder and not an actual business – but you never know | R&D Architects

By Nathan Solis

HIGHLAND PARK — Condominiums are not too far off in the future for Highland Park’s York Boulevard. A three-story, four-unit condominium complex designed by a firm active in Venice  is in the works for a vacant lot at the corner of York and York Boulevard and Nolden Street, currently a vacant lot.

The complex will feature three residential condominiums, and one additional unit that would include 600 square-feet of retail or commercial space on York Boulevard along with 10 parking spots for residents. The developers, JKJ Partners, Inc.  want to build a structure taller than current ordinances permit, and their  request for a height variance is scheduled to be heard today during a public hearing.

The complex will be no higher than 30 feet on York Boulevard, according to the developers, but due to the sloping nature of Nolden Street the property will appear higher toward the rear of the structure.

“At no time are we making a bigger building than we would be allowed to make. We’re just working with the odd conditions of the property,” says David Reddy of R&D Architects based in Venice, California.

“We worked hard to open up the Nolden side with balconies, weathered wood, and it’s going to be a really handsome addition to the area,” said Martin Kulli from JKJ Partners Inc. “We didn’t want to just design a box.”

R&D Architects is well-established in the contemporary market and has designed several condominiums and homes in Venice. Kulli notes that other condominiums in  Northeast L.A. are older and this new design may be a bit of a shock to the area.

In terms of price Kulli hesitates and remarks that it might be too early to tell.

“If everything gets going, we’ll start construction, and see where the market is at. I’d say in the mid-fives.”

Highland Park, real estate

Rendering courtesy R&D Architects

Highland Park, real estate

York Boulevard view of project | R&D Architects

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.

27 comments

  1. Why didn’t this request go before the HHPNC and Land Use first before City Hall? I reserve my opinion on this structure; but, I’d like to know who is backing this? Obviously it wasn’t brought to our attention until today?

  2. looks nice!

  3. I, for one, welcome our new Venetian Architectural Overlords.

  4. Slightly Skeptical

    Wondering if the balconies overlooking an auto body shop will be a selling point or not. How long until the residents paying mid-fives start petitioning the city/neighborhood council for some sort of noise abatement?

  5. @El Cid, the City of Los Angeles does not require approval from neighborhood councils. Nor is their a formal zoning process (the Department of Building and Safety is solely responsible for approving a project and this is based entirely on adherence to the building code). I’m personally grateful that a structure of this aesthetic and quality is finally making its way to Northeast LA.

    I detest the cheap, monstrous pigs that have popped up in recent years (the Orsini or the condo building next to Chango on Echo Park Ave). When there is no design review/approval process outside of LADBS, these sorts of things happen. On the contrary, such disorder is also the reason why Los Angeles is such a brilliantly diverse city (speaking in terms of architecture, color, etc). The anything goes attitude is, I’d argue, a beautiful expression of this country’s core principal.

    And while community involvement can be valuable, more often than not you end up having uneducated people with no design sense influence what the city will look like. Their heart is in the right place, but they are NOT designers or architects (this is why communities often appoint experienced people to serve on a zoning or design review board). There are obvious benefits to this, but I can’t see it ever working in Los Angeles, certainly not in my lifetime.

    One example of failed community influence: The Echo Park Neighborhood Council recently voiced their opinion regarding the former Do It Center development on Sunset. Apparently the design was a sore thumb and didn’t negotiate the fabric of the neighborhood. The developers responded with an iteration that, in my opinion, was actually a downgrade from their initial plan. The big change was a cheap looking brick facade. I can see the laughter in their response… “Lets just not care and come up with something cheaper to compensate for wasted time.”

    Design is a luxury. It’s something that happens when extra money is on the table. And northeast LA is bringing that extra money, whether you like it or not. One positive is that it will look less shitty and the buildings won’t need to be repaired as frequently. While I’m all for it, there is no right answer. That’s the beauty of this place.

    • Echo Park Resident

      A “downgrade”?? How is an apartment building that includes retail space (original didn’t have any), had a significantly reduced height, was completely white and stood out like a sore thumb (looked like a Soviet block) and added low income units (original also had none) a “downgrade”?

      There were many, many changes that the developer you’re referencing made to the building; it wasn’t just limited to “putting a cheap facade” on the building. I suggest you do your research before you go around spreading false lies. (Also, not sure how a computer rendering can tell you if the materials that are actually being used are “cheap” or not. Are you a fortune teller, or something?)

      • Must agree with Frederick…the abysmal “redo” of Reliable with design by committee delivers a cheap brick facade to what was a clean and modern finish. The context for the Reliable sight is the amazing MWD building currently under final restoration. How will the poorly designed Reliable sight do compared to the MWD?
        As an aside, the proposed development was ALWAYs affordable, that’s how these crafty devils get reduced parking. Bitch and moan about SB 1818, if you think 10% affordable deserves 100% reduced parking requirements…..I do it daily!

        E.

        • Echo Park resident

          Edina, you were not involved with the community negotiations for the Sunset and Everett project, so honestly, you have no idea what you’re talking about. There was nothing “clean and modern” about the original design. The new design added more windows, more open space and broke up what was originally going to be a large, white mass extending across several blocks with no retail or park-like space to open up the development and make it more inviting. Also I don’t know where you’re getting “Reliable” from, as there are no companies by that name associated with the project.

          Again, people here should educate themselves about what was really being proposed on Sunset and Everett before you start complaining about things are arbitrary as what type of materials will be put on the side of the building. It was never about brick facades — you’re essentially complaining about something that’s as trivial as what color your neighbor’s house is. The color of this building is so far beyond the point. The community group who worked with the developer made this development a place for THE COMMUNITY and was able to reduce the height, add ridesharing and other great benefits. You’re all complaining without seeing the big picture.

      • A “false lie”? Better than true lie? Or does the double negative make it truth?

    • @Frederick, I’m all for positive development! Especially if the developers build responsibly in a community that IS and WAS beautiful with or without the development! Everyone take time and ask yourself why do you live in HP or why are you moving into it? I’ve been here since 1962 and I love it! I welcome everyone to what I’ve known as a beautiful, serene, calm, diverse community for all those years. I have my concerns on the “Toaster Building” and I pray the developer doesn’t build a rectangle building with no architecture design. If you have a chance, drive by RangeView between Avenue 55 and Avenue 56 and take a look at a three story home in a small living square lot. It’s three blocks north of York Blvd. I can’t say I detest the new structure; but, I can’t say it compliments our community. Lastly, I am always concerned with City of Los Angeles permitting so many variances! Why have building codes and rules if we to not adhere by them? Will the “Toaster” have parking for the units?

    • @Frederick – LADBS has nothing to do with the “approval” of a project. Approvals are made by the City Planning Department. Once approvals are obtained, construction permits are obtained from LADBS based on the approvals granted by the City Planning Department as well as the building codes. It is a two-step process.

  6. While I thoroughly agree with Slightly Skeptical re: the lovely view, I think it looks great, and I love that they’ve included sufficient parking, didn’t over-reach by trying to cram in a ridiculous amount of units, and included ground floor retail, all things that seem to be a rarity in the initial plans of so many new developments. So thank you. Now if you can only get that auto repair joint to sell to you …

  7. I’m in favor of this as long as EVERYONE who lives there only rides a bike. The last thing we need on York is more auto traffic.

  8. I wouldn’t want to live above a toast bar.

  9. yak ! why not make it look like LA stay in NY fool

  10. Actually this shoe box mod-contemp with a unibrow isn’t a shock to anyone! HP is being bombarded with sq ft development allied with arrogant savior design pitches. Throw in a sloped roof along with a few asymmetric lines and I guess the suckers will line up (500k..WOW!). My biggest concern here would be its owner occupied shelf life! How long can something as CRAMP as this sustain its value and weather blight? BTW, the retail space is perfect for another nail salon!

  11. @El Cid and @I Like Buildings – I stand corrected on multiple fronts. Thank you for making your points and educating me, Egg on Face. @El Cid, thanks especially for pointing out all the changes impacted by the Neighborhood Council on the Do It Center development, especially related low income housing and street retail, both huge improvements.

  12. Why not just do rental? The hassle of the condo tract map for 3 units seems hardly worth it – and condos on commercials strips in emerging areas are a risky proposition. Mixed use is great – but how would you ever get a construction loan for this? Hopefully they have cash on hand and can make it a reality.

  13. I think it looks awesome and would welcome it the neighborhood.

  14. I lived there for many many years. Then a another family lived there for a short time then the house caught on fire.
    The idea of having a condo is cool. But the design is too much. The design needs to fit in the neighborhood BUT with a some class.
    The only problem with nolden St is the auto/tire shop. It’s an eye sore!! Plus they like parking their cars all over the place and not only that but test drive up and down the street in high speed. Tell me would you like seeing that while trying to relax on your balcony. I don’t think so. But that my opinion.

  15. If you walk up Nolden from that corner to Fayette and Meridian, you will see some bright blue apartments . Once upon a time, they were new 70s wood-sided units that were so popular at the time, and considered very cool and hip.

    I wonder what will happen to these units — maybe the the tire station, the neighboring Mexican restaurant, the El Super and the bright green lawn mower repair shop will become the true draw for the new residents, if not for their landlords.

  16. I am not sure people can get excited with this kind of illustration. Maybe, during the design process, but not for public eyes… just IMO.

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