What’s a woonerf? We will find out when a new Echo Park development gets built

Echo Park, Elysian Heights, homes, real estate

The future site of Blackbirds was cleared of existing homes last year

ECHO PARK — It does not look like it but some preliminary construction work has begun on the hillside site of 18 townhomes designed by noted L.A. architect Barbara Bestor, according to a spokeswoman for the project known as Blackbirds.  An official ground breaking is scheduled for later this month but no word yet on when the small-lot development will be completed or what the price range will be.

Several bungalows were demolished last year on five lots off of Baxter Street and Vestal Avenue after the developer,  Local Construct,  won approval to build the homes over the opposition of neighboring residents.  The property was purchased in 2012  for $1.725 million.

Bestor, who has designed several homes in the area, came up with design of pitched-roof homes in four different configurations. “The pitched roof lines are designed to mimic the surrounding neighborhood, and to create what architect Barbara Bestor has dubbed ‘stealth density,”‘ according to project marketing material.

Now, about that Woonerf. The homes will be clustered around a landscaped common area that will serve as open space but also provide parking and vehicle access in a layout inspired by the Dutch concept called Woonerf or “living street.”  Blackbirds  “takes the Dutch concept of the woonerf (or a living street where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorists) and re-focuses it through a Los Angeles-specific lens,” according to information provided the project spokeswoman.

Rendering of Blackbirds development./Bestor Architecture


  1. More density in the hills, where virtually every trip will require a car? It’s just bizarre that LA’s zoning allows this type of retrograde development to happen in this day and age.

    • It’s really not that far up baxter and the dash service in just a block away from this site. One could also easily ride a bike from this location to Sunset if they would like to take transit – the bike ride would take no more than approximately 8 minutes.

    • woonerf is the sound you hear when your kid gets ran over by an audi wagon while playing in an area thats supposed to be pedestrian friendly

  2. I love when cities take the plunge and do these types of streets. While this may not be the location with the most impact, it will start getting people used to the idea for potential future applications.

  3. echoparkandcurran

    This just looks like a suburban track to me. Am i missing something here? If those people in the drawing think they will use the street as a “communal hangout” that’s fine until they get run over by an Audi or BMW wagon. Remove the cars and then you have a communal space. This drawing is misleading, it should have a couple cars driving next to the people.
    Put the cars underground and you have something there that is truly pedestrian friendly and needed in LA.

  4. “A living street where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorists” . . . “through a Los Angeles-specific lens” has to be a joke. 36 more cars, replacing the 5 or 6 cars from the torn down homes, will be a disaster on Vestal. Now please tell me how this fits trough a “Los Angeles-specific lens.” Los Angeles transit still has a long way to go. People will always need cars to go cross town whether or not they walk, bike or hop a bus to nearby areas.

    In spite of newly posted signs to slow down traffic approaching blind spots on either side of the Vestal crest, 36 more cars exiting and entering on narrow, hilly Vestal right near the blind spot will be a disaster. One can hardly get through from Avalon to Vestal safely because of parked cars and oncoming traffic . Not to mention the Avalon/Vestal turn that has a large hump caused by tree roots.

    Hillside small lot developments have to stop!

  5. If you visit their blog the design and thought that goes into it is really nice. It’s not just a bunch of townhomes being smashed into a lot. It’s well thought out and appears to be tastefully done. They are even reclaiming pieces from the old property.


    • echoparkandcurran

      the website looks like alot of pr and marketing lies. woonerf is just another word for suburban culdesac with cars
      this development is none better than the development on echo park and delta
      or silverlake and rowena,
      stupid design, stupid developers posing as progressive

      and i am one actually for density just to let you know

      this is just another stupid l.a. condo development

      the cars rule the development

  6. echoparkandcurran

    Barbara Bestor should stick to corporate retail with stencils and malls . Sorry this sucks. Or go into packaging or marketing

    I think she can do much better and i think she knows it too.

  7. Gosh you guys are a bunch of negative nancys. This is about as sensitive a densification as can be undertaken, and just the sort of project Los Angeles should be encouraging, Rather than working to preserve LA under glass as the same disfunctional suburb that it existed in 1950, is there is somewhere well outside of Los Angeles where you can move where you will be free of the problems and benefits of urbanity?

    • echoparkandcurran

      Please let me know how this is “sensitive densificaion” ?
      This IS the same suburban development as in the 1950’s

      Isay make it denser, put the cars underground and make the public space a true pedestrian space by eliminating the cars.

      This is just a facade of urbanity, only in LA. could this type of crap be passed as urban friendly. No different than echo park and delta or silverlake and rowena,

      Barbara Bestor has a big future making track houses for suburban kids that want to keep their suburban lifestyles alive in the urban center.

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