Developer seeking to build 60 townhomes on Atwater industrial property

Rendering by Rios Clementi Hale

A section of the proposed Atwater development | Rendering by Rios Clementi Hale

ATWATER VILLAGE — The family of developer-turned-philanthropist Morton La Kretz is leaving quite a mark on North Atwater, with La Kretz contributing millions of dollars to construct a cable-suspension bridge across the L.A. River. Now, the La Kretz family wants to build 60 townhouses on an industrial property a short walk from where the La Kretz Crossing will be constructed.

The project, one of the largest, single residential projects that would be built in Atwater in recent years, would rise next to North Atwater Park on a nearly three-acre property on the eastern tip of Chevy Chase Drive,  where Scenic Expressions, an entertainment industry transportation and storage company is currently located.  The La Kretz family has owned the property for about twenty years, said consultant Daniel Tellalian.

Plans by project architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios include homes ranging in size from 1,400 square-feet to 1,700 square-feet as well as “substantial landscaping and permeable walking paths in an urban-park design,” Tellalian said. “The family’s decision to convert an old industrial property into rustic residential near the river is a natural extension of those same civic interests” that supported the new L.A. River span, he said.

But getting the project built would require changing the site’s agricultural zoning to allow for residential development. The agricultural zoning was put in place  in the early 1970s as part of efforts to protect nearby stables, equestrian facilities and access to riding trails, Tellalian said.

The project is now being presented to Atwater groups, including the chamber of commerce and neighborhood council, as the La Kretz family tries to built support. Luis Lopez with the Atwater Chamber of Commerce said a lot of thought has been put into the project but his group is concerned about the further loss of commercially-zoned property and jobs, he said.

Tellalian, who said the project would not displace jobs or residents, said construction would start in 2016 if the necessary zoning changes and other approvals are granted.


  1. Glad we (taxpayers) spent all that Superfund money to clean-up the former train yards. “Will be dedicated to providing parklands, and open spaces”. Yeah. right.

  2. I really like Garcetti but I am over this density frenzy. Where the hell is their water going to come from?

    • People don’t use that much water, and are already the highest paying users. The water for 60 townhouses can come from an acre of excess agricultural water (and the ag folks will waste less if they had to pay 1/10th of what the city-folk did).
      As for density, it is either more density, or more massive increase in housing prices. Houses are supply and demand. People want to move here (and getting them water isn’t a problem), so they either bid up the costs of homes in Atwater, Highland Park, etc., or they build new, dense townhouses, condos, and apartment buildings.

      • I understand the fact that a ton of new people want to live here. I just seriously doubt these townhomes will be priced for transplants/young professionals. At 1,400- 1,700sf these might be in the $650,000 price range on up. Latitudes and SL70 aren’t even finished. Do you know if units in these other developments have been accounted for yet? If we truly want to embrace density, why not smaller eco friendly homes. I don’t see how luxury townhomes are going to fix our supposed inventory chrisis when there are plenty of adaptive reuse opportunities all over. I would love to see more former office buildings being modified for sfr rather than these boxy stack and pack lego-like projects.

        • It’s all cumulative… just think of this as 60 less families driving up the cost of the adjacent houses and apartments.

    • fewer illegals means more water for the rest of us.

  3. in addition to water, how are these people going to “get around”?
    Sure, dense neighborhoods sound great with people walking and biking everywhere (I’m pro bike, btw); however, the reality is most of these folks will own and use cars to get places. This further strains parking, congestion, etc.

    Even the best estimates show that the reduction in overall driving doesn’t make up for all the new miles driven.. which results in more total local miles being driven. So, we’re increasing local congestion and local pollution to deposit a mere drop in the save-the-earth bucket.

    • Which is why we need more mixed use… a great deal of the traffic in LA is because we put all the commercial and retail in one location, and all the housing elsewhere. This forces people to either walk a mile to run day-to-day errands, or drive (not to mention the way we design these main shopping streets in LA… like miniature freeways.)

      • I would agree that if we had a do-over, and we designed LA in this way from the get-go, it would have been great!!

        However, Trying to retrofit LA into this model is turning into a cluster-bunk.

        Parts of Pasadena have become SIGNIFICANTLY more congested. These areas, almost exclusively, are the areas around our Transit Oriented Development areas.

        So, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, etc will be next to become congested nightmares due to over-development.

        • Pasadena is doing just fine… there’s only congestion at rush hour, which is to be expected in a city (otherwise traffic is pretty light compared with the rest of the region.)

          Anyway, whoever said congestion is a reason to stop growing? Any desirable city with a strong economy will have bad traffic., it’s just a bi-product of that success. All that development is also helping to pay for neighborhood improvements and city services. This is what a strong local economy looks like.

          • Huh? How lame, congestion shoud not be a way of life. This kind of development is only nuturing more enclavism. The population needs to be mobile to experience the city.

          • “whoever said congestion is a reason to stop growing?”

            I’ve said that many, many times.

            I’m all for redevelopment, which is an economic engine, but I’m totally against OVERdevelopment.

            Congestion should not be considered par for the course. Growth is good if you have the infrastructure in place to move people and goods. Congestion is evidence that the infrastructure is not sufficient. Congestion increases inefficiency (not good for economy), decreases productivity (not good for economy), decreases quality of life (not good for people), increases *local* pollution (not good for people).

            Like I said, if we had a do-over, we could have designed things to accommodate growth.. but the way we’re wedging people in every little nook and cranny without proper infrastructure is just plain bad.

            You and I obviously disagree on this point. We’ll have to check back in with each other twenty years from now to see who was right.

          • @True Freedom: Fair Enough.

            And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t suggest Atwater as the first location for removing parking requirements all together… I’d prefer we start within a half mile of metro rail stops. That way people have realistic alternatives to driving, and we can let the free market truly do it’s thing.

            I think if you were to look at other cities with awesome mass transit (London, Paris, Tokyo) you’d see that congestion is still an issue… fortunately people have all sorts of alternatives to driving. I think we should shoot for the same here with regards to mobility (not impossible if you consider those cities are pretty sprawling too.)

            Frankly, I just don’t see any realistic alternatives. People want to live here, so without some kind of heavy handed government decree you can’t stop growth (and economically, why would you want to?) All you can do is direct it where it will work out in your favor. I don’t think that means we have to start building high rises everywhere, but let’s build up the city where we have rail, and let’s zone for more corner stores and retail sprinkled into our residential-only tracts, so people don’t have to drive just to run some quick errands.

          • @ corner soul, After Glendale’s sudden spurt of building 3,000 new apts, condos and mixed use. They are now considering a pull back. Reason-congestion in Glendale, Congestion that is going to affect neighbors. My concern is L.A. is plowing the same row and I have to agree (rarely do) with True Freedom.

          • @ekirby: 3,000 units in Glendale? Really? In what timeframe?

            To put it in perspective, that’s about the same that was built in Downtown LA from 2008-2013, which is the biggest growth market in the region by a landslide… and most of that was probably adaptive reuse of existing/vacant highrises (source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304281004579220210670242326)

          • http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/tn-gnp-glendales-building-boom-troubles-caltrans-20140109,0,2035058.story
            @ corner soul, Here you go. I’m sure you’ll applaud these developments, but I’ll never be convinced.

          • Well that is a lot of units, I won’t deny that… but it sounds like they’re talking about 2006 to now (as well as anything that’s still in the pipeline.)

            And yeah, I do think it’s a smart plan for Glendale to grow their downtown housing stock. It’ll expand their tax base, and maximize ROI on their most valuable land, with much less strain on their infrastructure than building up in the hills and over open spaces.

            Besides, any city with half a brain should take CalTrans advice with a grain of salt. A transit agency shouldn’t be telling cities to stop growing their downtowns, they should be helping them grow their downtowns by building better projects (less freeways, we have plenty… more mass transit, we’re sorely lacking.)

    • The younger folks seem to have adapted to bicycles and public transportation more so than any other age group, it’s a pity then that they’re being priced completely out of the Eastside.
      How about some new build apartments in the $285,000 to $385,000 range for one and two bedrooms, I know its a futile request but this what young urban professionals need. How many couples out there can afford $3,000+ pm on a mortgage?

      Oh yes, Daddy owns a factory full of enslaved workers in China and is pouring his money into the US.

      • Might be possible if the city got rid of parking requirements and allowed for more conventional urban growth… but the older generations in LA cant see the forest for the trees.

        • One only needs to spend a small amount of time in K Town and mid city to see the result of low or NO parking requirements. It’s a shitshow. People love their cars and they will hold onto them as long as they continue to purchase items bigger than a bag of groceries. And I am very pro-bike for the record. Adaptive reuse of existing structures would solve much of the inventory need in Los Angeles while not encroaching on our already limited green spaces. There should be incentives given to developers willing to modify existing office buildings and eyesore mini malls. Let’s not be short sighed over and over again.

          • Other problems at play in those areas (lack of public space and LADOT designing neighborhoods as cut-through highways for starters.)

            There’s dozens of desirable neighborhoods in LA built long before government felt the need to micromanage parking… Sunset Junction, Los Feliz, Little Tokyo, Larchmont, Venice, Frankline Village, etc. etc.

            I’m all for adaptive reuse, but that’s already happening. If we were actually serious about lowering the cost of housing in LA, there’s literally hundreds of parking lots and stripmalls on major boulevards near mass transit that we could be replacing with urban housing… and if developers didn’t have to first build an industrial scale parking garage 3 floors underground, they might be significantly more affordable.

            Just some food for thought.

        • do we have any data to point to the preferences of these young people.. when they get older?

          I work with a bunch of twenty somethings. I watch as they get older, get married, have kids.. many transition from loving the condo in Old Town to wanting a SFR with a yard.

          • Do we have any data to the contrary?

            Either way, if most of those young people hit middle age and decide to move to the suburbs, well, we’re making new ones every day… that’s how cities generally work. LA can’t swim upstream forever, sooner or later you need to embrace urbanism with both arms.

  4. Who cares, that area is a dump! They should do something with it besides a brewery. The only decent area in Atwater is around Glendale Blvd and Los Feliz Blvd. Atwater needs less abandoned warehouses and more stores, businesses, even residential.

  5. Why is no one talking about what a retro 1980’s eyesore this development will be?

    • Yes! My thoughts exactly. Build it if you must, but please make it something not so damn butt-ugly. These new developments all have a “look” and it’s not good. It’s like architecture by numbers. They’re not even trying.

  6. What I find most offensive about this development is the name. I understand the developers’ desire to immortalize themselves, but “La Kretz Crossing” sure doesn’t roll off the tongue.

  7. Is it already too late to save Oakland…..(or Atwater, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, East LA)? Are they being saved now?

    • jocko, you mention Oakland which I had no idea about. But I visited my cousin who just bought a home in Sunnyvale. He bought a very modest home there for a million dollars! He is a tech guy buying his first home. But the price is WAY OVERPRICED. He made it sound like the prices of the homes went up 100 percent in one year.
      Where are all the regular people supposed to live when the Silicon Valley money starts taking over. They are taking over my neighborhood too in that Airbnb is forcing hotels in my residential area. How are we supposed to stop all this?

  8. Too big to fail is a concept. What about too big to succeed?

  9. hope this happens. will keep driving out the gangs.

  10. If I’m not mistaken the architectural designers responsible for this are the same ones who brought us the Polka Dot park in Silver Lake. It is interesting to notice how different the two projects are stylistically.

  11. Could They make sure that there is public access through this 60 unit development.

    I would be OK with this development if they allowed public to access the

    These are in the River Improvement Overlay district (RIO) so they should have access for pedestrians and cyclists to the river.

    I’ve noticed that the Horse properties are very closed off to public access and block pubblic access to the horses. It makes it very difficult to walk/cycle directly down to the river because of all the “private property/ stay out” signs on the the horse ranches.

    If they could make the river more accessible and make sure that they aren’t blocking public access. Per haps the developer can put up more open space. Put in less units– like puting in 30 single family houses instead of such dense townhomes in the area. As well as some trails that lead through the horse properties and connect the North Atwater park to the bridge and griffith park more directly—those ideas would be more of a compromise.

    The Atwater Equestrian properties really block public access and the current warehouses block public access to the river. They need to put more trails and cyclist paths with access to the river here

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