A new look and apartment building for Echo Park Avenue [updated]

New neighbor on Echo Park Avenue | Killefer Flammang Architects

New neighbor on Echo Park Avenue | Killefer Flammang Architects

ECHO PARK — A 35-unit apartment building with ground-floor shops is planned to be constructed in the 1500 block of Echo Park Avenue, the most recent of several large residential projects that have been built or are in the works for the neighborhood.

The three-story project by MWest Holdings would serve as a contemporary version of its next door neighbor, the four-story, 44-unit  red-brick Del Mor Apartments building, which was constructed during the 1920s. The new project, which would replace a parking lot and metal shed most recently occupied by Blue Collar pet supply, would include 50 studio- and one-bedroom apartments, 2,400 square feet of commercial retail space and parking for 90 vehicles, according to a statement issued by MWest. The firm purchased the site and the adjacent Del Mor apartment building, now known as the Del Mor Lofts, nearly three years ago for $9.275 million.

“For the new building which is adjacent to the Del Mor Lofts, we went as far as echoing the brick clad and curve of the existing retail, creating a beautiful look that speaks to the existing façade,” according MWest representatives. ” We are also adding significant parking for nearly 90 cars versus the 16 available now on the surface lot.”

The company said that the project’s size and height falls within  zoning regulations and do not require any variances from the city. However, representatives for the developer have been meeting with neighborhood groups, Council District 13 and others to brief them on the project.  The Echo Park Improvement Association, for example,  expressed support for the project but also encouraged the company to find ways to allow the existing tenants of the Del Mor to use the parking spaces in the new project during evening hours.

The firm said it will be many months before it breaks ground as it finalizes its plans.

The MWest project sits one block south from where a 36-unit condo project was completed in 2013. Meanwhile, a few blocks west, a 70-unit apartment building has been proposed for Glendale Boulevard and Aaron Street. On Sunset Boulevard, a four-story building is in the works on a vacant lot near Alvarado Street while, further east, a 27-unit building is under construction on Sunset and Innes Street and a much larger, 214-unit residential complex has been proposed for Sunset near Marion Street.

Update: A previous version of this story said the new building would have 50 apartments based on information provided by the developer’s architects. That figure was wrong. The correct number is 35 apartments.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. This is beautiful! It’s refreshing to see a company put such an effort into the design of a new building. I wish there were more developrs with better design aesthetics such as this one.

    • You’re joking of course. It is totally ugly – obviously the cheapest laziest hack work by sub-mediocre commercial ‘mechanics’ lacking any artistry. When people with taste this poor finish taking over they shall have created a very ugly world – a vacupous style-less mini mall from coast to coast. This used to be a nice neighborhood. What do they have against good design? Why can’t they perceive the design envelope of the neighborhood at all? Probably because they couldn’t care less.

      • Would you care to elaborate? Based on the image above, I’m seeing an okay 4 story building that blends a little bit of modernism in with some traditional urban building dimension.

      • Ivan, is this the echo park character you’re hoping they emulate (which is right across the street)? https://goo.gl/maps/HERNfz2peyo

        you’re right, the new building is a total dump in comparison!

  2. Haha, I can’t tell if Alex K.’s comment is pure sarcasm or if he is one of the developers… According to the architect’s website Echo Park Avenue is in Silver Lake… Also, they list 70 parking spots and not 90 like advertised by the developer.

    (“MWest Echo Park is a new three-story mixed use building located in Silver Lake, consisting of 50 studio- and one-bedroom residential units along with 2400 SF of commercial retail space and 70 parking stalls.”)

    • More underground parking or more affordable rents… pick one.

      • You are crazy if you think they will be charging rents that are even remotely close to affordable! And you can be guaranteed that people spending that kind of money will be having cars to park at home, very expensive cars. And many of those units absolutely will have two people, each with a car. And then add in the additional cars drawn by the street-level commercial storefronts. This is a disaster, and on a relatively narrow street like Echo Park Avenue. And the cumulative effect with the other development going on there — such as the 36-unit project cited in this article — makes it only worse; the cumulative impact is one of the various things CEQA requires to be considered and mitigated.

        That impact requires a full Environmental Impact Report and mitigation. And such a report if honest, will definitely require more parking to be added to this project. But the city will not require any but the biggest developments to do EIRs, contrary to CEQA requiring them. So, more and more neighborhoods have been filing lawsuits over projects – and winning, especially on the point of failure to do a proper EIR. The city’s attorney says the projects are exempt from an EIR, and take the attitude that neighbors can go sue if they want — but the courts keep telling the city that is false.

  3. I was at the EPIA presentation. Alex K nailed it: the developer put a lot of thought into the project, maintaining much of the character and nature that is Echo Park. It’s the best I’ve seen in several years. Wish them well.

  4. It’s a beautiful building! I’m happy with this developer’s efforts.

  5. Where exactly can I find that Echo Park character and nature in this building? I’m curious…

    The architect must have seen my comment (the info was copied and pasted from their website). They changed it now to:

    “MWest Echo Park is a new three-story mixed use building located in Echo Park, consisting of 35 studio- and one-bedroom residential units along with 2400 SF of commercial retail space and 90 parking stalls.”

    • You have me laughing. That was my instant thought what I read that vacuous statement.

    • Marc, you are so correct about the absolute non-existence of this design’s “Echo Park character”. It self-evidently has none. It seems that the developers are totally monitoring this page, and I bet their hedge funds are too. They know nobody likes their awful cheap hackwork. The “pro” posts here sound like standard astroturfing paid commenters. I strongly doubt they are real residents. Hopefully the neighbors will get a nice lawsuit together.

    • https://goo.gl/maps/HERNfz2peyo Is that what you were hoping the development looked like? What charm!

  6. Looks nice, but the parking seems excessive.

    • Are you kidding? There’s barely enough parking as it is. I work on this block and it’s a total nightmare. The new(ish) landlords are multimillionaires trying to turn this block into Glendale. The design says it all. Nobody on the block is happy. At all.

      • Hah, work on this block…give me a break. Some idiot working a retail job presuming to tell us what we should do with our own neighborhood.

        I LIVE here and OWN here, I think this is a great project.

      • The parking spaces, if there are 90, seems about right considering there has to be parking for the retail shops too. Not everyone is a bike-riding vegan hipster 😉

    • Corner Soul, you have never seen a parking space anywhere that you don’t think is excessive. They could put in only two parking spaces for this project, and you would still say it is excessive.

      • Underground parking costs tens of thousands of dollars to build per spot… like I said above, do you want more subsidized parking, or more affordable housing? You can’t have both.

        And dragging out the development process via CEQA and frivolous lawsuits (this project is “by-right”) just adds years of soft costs that get passed on to renters.

        What you’re arguing for is exclusionary housing, pure and simple.

        • That housing is going to be the MAXIMUM price they can possibly squeeze of wealthy people – no matter their cost of building it. They are not going to lower the price simply because the construction cost was low priced – that is unbelievably naive.

          Prices are not set by some certain percentage above costs, they are set at maximum that can possibly be had and still get the volume desired. You need to learn business and economics — your ideas of it are junior high level..

          Those units absolutely will not go for a lower price because construction costs were kept down. In fact, you should expect if anything, more parking spaces will get them even higher rents – people paying high rent expect to have a parking space and won’t go to the place where they don’t get them..

          • Yes, yes.. we all understand how markets work. You yourself admit as much:

            “In fact, you should expect if anything, more parking spaces will get them even higher rents – people paying high rent expect to have a parking space and won’t go to the place where they don’t get them..”

            And of course lowering construction costs can lower rents. Sure, most large developers building at scale are going to play the long game to maximize profits (even if their apartments and storefronts sit half empty for months, possibly years.)

            But what about local investors on a lean budget? They certainly can’t afford to play the long game for top rents. You better believe they’d try to undercut their competitors and fill missing gaps in the market. There’s certainly a demand for lower-middle income urban housing… we’ve just zoned, regulated and financed it out of existence.

            Look at all the lovely old low-rise mixed-use and small lot courtyard buildings built before modern zoning and parking requirements. They have zero problems finding tenants, and rents are much lower without onsite parking (to paraphrase your comment above, an amenity that high income tenants expect!)

            If someone tried to build those today, they’d be in for a world of pain from City Hall. And even if they managed to get around the zoning, they’d just be held up for years in court by some busybody like yourself and go bankrupt in the process.

            Look, I get it, you don’t want your neighborhood to change. But stop pretending that doesn’t come at a very real cost to your neighbors with less means.

  7. not looking forward to all that construction in the neighborhood but this looks like a good project. KFA have done a bunch of nice projects.

    • I sadly just left Echo Park for Tokyo (a new job that seriously advanced my career — couldn’t say no). I hoped to move back and buy a house, but things like this just remind me that the Echo Park I fell in love with 10 years ago has now been replaced by a whitewashed, privileged, clueless group of transplants. This development is in walking distance of my old home, and I’m glad I don’t have to see this heartbreaking transformation in person anymore.

      • Charles M Shorty

        It is very foolish to think that anything (especially a diverse and dynamic city) would stay exactly the same. To stay in that mindset is setting yourself up for constant disappointment.

        “The only thing that is constant is change”

        As to your comment on the “transplants” – I can assure you that Echo Park is not a beacon for the clueless and self-entitled; that happens to be a generational thing. It’s called being a millennial.

  8. Wonderful!

    I wish other developers (like, say, Weinstock and Dynamic Development) would get a clue and build stuff that has something to do with the neighborhood. Their design for Everett Street (aside from being completely out of scale) is going to stick out like a sore thumb. They can remove it from their portfolio when it goes out of fashion (like, say, the year after it’s built) but we’ll be stuck with it for decades.

  9. IheartEchoPark

    Nice rendering. That stretch of Echo Park will be a cool lively street. Hopefully there will be cafes a plenty in the new storefronts. Hope NIMBYs don’t water it down or delay the process.

  10. OK, totally not buying all the rave reviews here. What happened to all the traffic complainers? All the affordable housing whiners? All the “I’ve lived in Echo Park for 20 years and this neighborhood is going down the crapper-ers”? Suddenly every body loves developers? These are fake commenters and fake comments. Period. “Wonderful!”? BS!

    • I was haveing similar thoughts as I read through the comments. Then I realized that these responses are, sadly, the result of the dramatic demographic shift in the neighborhood. This neighborhood has long been a mix of socio-economic levels but now it caters to only one demographic – mostly white, mostly single, mid-20’s – early 30’s with piles of money and invested in the community only in ways that benefit them.

      • And how would not building anything would change this dynamic? The reality is that “neighborhood preservation” has only succeeded in sending more lower income people packing for the inland empire or other states – while enriching local landowners.

        • There are ways of doing things that serve the entire community – ways that are inclusive and democratic. But that’s Echo Park ideals of the past. Los Angeles’ inferiority complex has not served the public well. Instead of making choices that would really make it a “city of the future,” it’s vision is conventional and ultimately unsustainable.
          Also, if affordable housing were a real component of new construction and development, the argument agains neighborhood preservation would make sense. However, when you displace people AND build only very expensive housing, the community loses.

          • Displacing people…wtf???

            If you lived here you’d know they are tearing down a vacant commercial building to build this.

          • The building only became vacant when it was old. Remember, it was the old Blue Collar location. Could have easily been turned into another great local business.

          • Sorry, “SOLD” not “OLD”

          • @dave and @Kat Seriously? Let me restate: “Apparently, there needs to be some clarification. The proposal of this corner building naturally leads to a more general discussion regarding the impact of high-priced developments on the Echo Park community. While this building is not displacing people directly, the dramatic rise of rents and the increases in property value are.”

        • @Carc brings up a fair point. It’s easy to blame the “evil developers”, but let’s not forget that the local BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) contingent tend to have a vested interest in suppressing the construction of new housing. Forced scarcity means their property values will continue to climb.

          • You constantly spread falsehoods. No one has ever argued in any of the threads to build nothing. The issue is not to do absolutely noting rather than th bring in complete armageddon over drastic overdevelopment and destroy communities.

            You have to make up this crap because what has been argued is sensible and right. What people have argued is not to drastically overdevelop and wreck neighborhoods, that is completely unnecessary to have plenty more housing. More housing and keeping neighborhoods nice are compatible outlooks, but that is NOT what is going on.

          • You do realize LA has a major housing shortage right now, and rents are untenable for most locals… right?

            Besides, the article states this building requires no variances, and it’s virtually the same height and scale as it’s neighbor.

            In what world is this “drastic”? Save your venom for Geoff Palmer and the like.

    • Thank you for posting that comment, Olomo. Now I don’t have to, Yes, completely out of whack sudden volume of such comments, and all saying pretty much the same thing, certainly is telling.

    • IheartEchoPark

      I am for real.. and an actual resident.

    • IheartEchoPark

      Additional housing is being built on a parking lot, No resident is being displaced, no homes are being demolished. They’re adding retail and more parking and it appears that they are building something that in the rendering seems to be complimentary to the adjacent historical building. Echo Park continues to evolve. The neighborhood isn’t a static thing preserved in amber forever for some (self) defined group of people. It has and continues to change just like all of LA.

      • Apparently, there needs to be some clarification. The proposal of this corner building naturally leads to a more general discussion regarding the impact of high-priced developments on the Echo Park community. While this building in particular is not displacing people directly, the dramatic rise of rents and the increases in property value are.

        Change in itself is not an issue. What is problematic is the way things have changed. Most of the long-time residents would not be opposed to more inclusive and democratic changes that benefit the community as a whole.

        • IheartEchoPark

          @kim – you’re speaking to a larger societal issue. One that this individual project isn’t going to fix. To say this project doesn’t benefit the community as a whole isn’t recognizing: 1) It brings in additional retail tax base and jobs 2) it brings more residents into the community 3) it brings in construction jobs.The dramatic rise in rents is due to a demand for housing that outpaces supply. The building management company can demand all they want — if no one was willing to pay, then those prices would drop. And “long-time resident” what does that even mean? LA is the epicenter of new immigrants and migrants.. Where does one’s long term begin

          • Of course one project doesn’t fix the problem – just add this one to the long list of overpriced rentals and condos – Chicken Corner, SL70, Blackbirds, Morton Village, and whatever is going up on Glendale.. One project can serve as a better model, to be replicated in order to solve the problem of the lack of affordable housing. In re to your list: 1.) the jobs it brings doesn’t support a family. 2.) the only kind of residents it brings are ones who can and are willing to pay outrageously high rents. 3.) construction jobs are short term jobs. And, as for the supply of housing? Maybe landlords and other property owners should stop filling up their units with AirBnB customers.

        • kim, do you realize that by adding 35 units on the market that rents will actually decrease due to competition? If you continue to oppose new development existing landlords will only continue to raise rents because renters have no choice. Are you a landlord or something?

          If you truly care about lowing the cost of housing you would be cheering developments such as this.

          • Thud. Thud. Thud.

            That’s the sound of me (and everyone else who understands that simply building more high priced developments doesn’t solve the problem of the AFFORDABLE housing shortage) hitting our heads against the wall.

            When you personally know the families and local businesses that have been forced out of the neighborhood, then you have a very different perspective.

          • @kim

            Seems like we’re all talking past one another a bit (tends to happen on the internet.) What would you propose we do?

            My two cents: Renters were being priced out of the neighborhood (myself included) long before corporate developers caught wind of the trend. It’s easy to point to things like gentrification, air bnb, luxury housing… but much harder to come up with realistic solutions for those struggling.

            In my view, the best approach would be localized and “bottom-up”. One that focuses on the underlying social and market mechanisms driving those trends, without trying to control who gets to live where (or relying on elaborate government programs.)

            Building more housing (at all price points) would seem to be an obvious thing for an urban neighborhood where demand is outpacing supply. But our complicated zoning and approvals process make that very difficult (only outsiders flush with capital have the resources.)

            Growing wealth at the local level with mom and pop businesses seems important as well. But again, we make it very hard for small entrepreneurs in this city, with endless red tape, taxes, fees and arbitrary “one-size fits all” rules. It’s no wonder we see mostly chains and high-end boutiques… commercial property is limited to major streets and all the rules and regulations are geared towards those with deep pockets.

            Until we address those underlying issues, I fear the neighborhood will only become more and more exclusive.

          • @ corner soul Do I have the answer? Unfortunately, no – I’m not an urban planner. However, I know realistic solutions exist. It’s just a question of whether or not we as a community or as a city (or country) have the willingness and volition to make human beings a priority over the bottom line. I think it’s really that simple and the system makes almost all of us complicit.

    • actually, i think people are wising up to the nimby BS, if you want true diversity and affordable housing we must have more development like this. Or do you prefer the alternative like what has happened in SF?

  11. I don’t know how people want to solve the housing crisis in LA by not building anything. Small lot development, apartment buildings and density in general is the only way forward. It will also decrease traffic if you can actually walk to something.

    • No one here has suggested not building anything. Nor have they in other threads for other stories for years. They have complained about overdevelopment, and insufficient consideration and mitigation of the negative impacts. It is not necessary to ruin neighbors in order to have substantially more housing. Housing stock can be doubled by putting two units on a lot where there was one; you don’t have to put six units, 3-4 stories high on the lot.

      Further, our shortage of housing is not a shortage of housing for the wealthy, which all of these projects are aimed at. We don’t need more housing for the wealthy, we need more affordable and low income housing. That is the only shortage in LA. We do not have any less a vacancy rate than we have had for many decades; we simply have a drastically lower vacancy rate of lower income and affordable housing. But that is not who we are building for. Even Mayor Eric Garcetti says none of this drastic amount of development will do anything to bring down housing prices! In fact, it has been causing prices to skyrocket; the small lot subdivision ordinance has more than quadrupled the price of the dirt.

      • Thank you and it’s too bad that your clarification and explanation of LA’s housing shortage has to be repeated over and over again.

      • A) 1 to 2 story buildings on major corridors is stupid and a waste of land B) any housing increases the total supply, therefore putting downward pressure on rents on older buildings. Also, these new buildings wont be brand new forever. They age, therefore, dropping in value after a certain point.

        Its obvious that you would like to freeze everything so that you dont have to deal with traffic anymore. Get a clue, you live in the middle of LA, There will always be traffic and people will always be moving here. All a CEQA lawsuit does is drive up development costs therefore rents go even higher and projects get value engineered. You dont like crowds and development, move to freaking Acton.

        • First, this building for this story is NOT on a major boulevard. And neither are very many of the small lot subdivisions, they are on little side streets in the residential areas away from major boulevards. Gee, Garcetti and the Cty Council are about to change zoning for a project in K-town to provide for a 27-story building on a residential street three blocks away from Wilshire, where the existing buildings are two stories to six stories.

          Further, your understanding of economics is shallow, but economics is actually deep. It is not only about supply and demand. In school, when they teach supply and demand, it is a theory they teach in isolation, but always qualify by saying something like “all else equal.” And there is a lot of “all else,” and it is never equal.

          Further, if your theory were correct, then why has this building boom skyrocketed prices instead of bring them own? Did you notice that the small lot subdivision ordinance has tremendously increased the costs of housing by at least quadrupling the cost of the dirt? Those SLS developments are not going cheap.

      • Most “Affordable housing” was built as market rate housing. It only became affordable as it aged.

        Even if most new housing is built for luxury renters (largely the result of exclusionary urban housing policies like parking minimums and CEQA) it still adds supply, which helps stabilize rents on older housing nearby.

        One only needs to look to the Bay Area to see what overregulation of the housing market does to desirable urban neighborhoods. Gentrification on steroids.

        • Well, you don’t care to look at the reality all around you. Rents have NOT been stabilized by this massive development, they have skyrocketed instead.

          As for previous eras, you should find out what you’re taking about before you talk about it.

      • jw. I hope you realize that any development, even luxury development, has a positive impact on lowering housing prices across the market. Those luxury units are often filled by people upgrading, thus opening up lower priced inventory.

        Restricting development to only affordable units is a recipe for Zero Development. And it ignores the fact that luxury units still create affordable housing inventory.

  12. Apparently, the comments section has been taken over by the interns at MWest. The clear and obvious truth is that the neighborhood can’t absorb this amount of human and auto traffic on this corner without drastically reshaping the community.

    I particularly like how the rendering implies a coffee shop on the first floor. I’m sure Chango will appreciate their new neighbors.

  13. I was born and raised in LA. Have lived in Echo Park for 25 years. I like this design. I’m not paid by anyone to like it. I just appreciate good design and think this is designed tastefully unlike a lot of crap being build these days. Is change hard sometimes? Yes. Is change inevitable in LA? Yes. Do we have to hate all change? No.
    I volunteer and have volunteered in my community for many years and have seen some really teacky proposals using cheap materials and a total lack of respect for the neighborhood aesthetic. I have to give credit where credit is due and this design is well done. Some of the crap being built on Sunset is an assault on the senses, but this building is tasteful. I’m not sure why you think we are being paid by anyone to state that we like this design. This design cleary illustrates waaaaaay more thought than almost all the crap being built on Sunset like the horrendous building near the carwash on Sunset and Alvarado.

  14. This is how you stop the housing crisis…..STOP HAVING KIDS. Do the math. There’s too many people on this planet. We’re fine. We don’t need any more people.

    • You actually just hit on one of the problems here in LA. Not kids specifically, but population. This city and its politicians are doing everything possible to scream to the world to come here, everyone should have LA pushed their face so when sitting in a blizzard someplace else, they can realize they should come here.

      We need to at least stop promoting LA as a place for everyone to come. That is not a sustainable idea. Oh, sure, in decades long gone, more population was justified, even needed. But we have already maxed out and have now gone beyond the max. What we now need is to become as invisible as possible, to not attract even more people.

      We need to stop promoting LA as a destination to move to. We don’t need big national attention from things like an NFL football team. We don’t need world attention from things like the Olympics in 2024.

      It is flat out hypocritical to say we don’t have enough housing and then go promoting to the world how much they really want to move here.

      We should not even be seeking to get corporations in other places to move here. Every time you have a corporation move into a new high rise that will handle the 8,000 workers, you need to realize, the corporation has to bring a good 6,000 of those from where it came from, they can’t start with mostly new people! What we should do instead is spread all the money we spend on trying to bring those corporations here on instead investing in and encouraging lots more home-grown businesses, build new corporations from the ground up right here in LA.

      And lots more points, but that gives the idea. You can’t have policies and programs to bring lots and lots more people here even as you insist we have a housing shortage. And of course we don’t even have water for all these people you want to bring in, they are now serving us toilet water out of the faucet to try to justify this (yes, we are getting that, as when they water the golf courses and parks and other with it, it goes into the water table we use for our drinking water).

      • And we should encourage horrific smog, a crack fueled gang war, economic recession, a major earthquake, maybe a pandemic… Worked like a charm for affordability and preservation in the early ’90’s! Some houses selling for less than 10% of today’s prices. If you’re only interested in dealing with the demand side of the equation – I don’t see what else you have. .

  15. Looks like a great place to put all the people moving here from Brooklyn.

  16. I actually like the design, and I hate most of the new stuff being built in the neighborhood. I was worried they were going to build more 90s suburban town homes, like those eyesores across from the gas station! This design works well with the brick apartment building next door.
    Yes, it’s going to add to the gentrification of the area, but at least they are adding lots of parking and ground level retail. Most importantly, they aren’t displacing anyone! It’s an ugly metal shed next to a parking lot that’s now going to provide much needed housing in the area.
    If traffic is the concern, let’s worry more about Dodger Stadium’s plan to start hosting concerts!

  17. This is JUST what Echo Park needs. A crappy, overpriced apartment building that will continue to squeeze out long time residents. The area is being decimated by greedy developers in the name of progress and stuff like this is exactly why.

  18. GOD HELP US ALL! Takes 10 min. To get to Sunset from the Avenue, now more development! If this is hip, it’s time for me to move on. You all can have it, at a price.

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