By JAVIER ROJAS
LINCOLN HEIGHTS — Residents weighed in last week in response to three competing proposals to redevelop the five-story former Lincoln Heights Jail next to the L.A. River.
The plans represent the most recent visions to recycle the riverfront Art-Deco complex, which was designated a historic monument in 1993 and has been largely vacant in recent years. After soliciting proposals last year, the city received nine proposals before cutting the list down to three. Officials put a priority on concepts that were oriented to the community and would generate economic growth in Lincoln Heights.
The goal is to make the 229,000-square-foot complex, composed primarily of two large buildings on Avenue 19, a “new economic development site that will spur revitalization in the Lincoln Heights community,” said Gerald Gubatan, planning deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo. The building’s revival would coincide with other public and privates efforts to restore the river, where new real estate development is underway or has been proposed.
Here’s a rundown of the three proposals presented at a community meeting last week:
The first development team presented on behalf of CIM Group, a real estate development firm that has worked on various project, including lofts and buildings throughout Southern California. The centerpiece of it proposal is to create a neighborhood hub called “The Linc,” which would include commercial space and housing and a hotel. It would also feature restaurants and retail stores designed to cater to nearby residents as well as an “urban and community garden” and a community space.
In a nod to the past, CIM proposed reusing some of the former jails as elements in the renovated building “to represent past and future.”
The second proposal from WORKS, a nonprofit organization supporting women and the development of affordable housing. Their proposal features low-income housing and a wellness facility called “Las Alturas,” which would include a daycare center, an art center, pedestrian walkway and gardens designed with children and seniors in mind. About 80% of the facility would be open to the public and include 47 moderate income housing spaces and 66 permanent supportive housing spaces.
“This project is for those that house 3-5 people per home,” said Channa Grace, president of WORKS.
Lincoln Heights Makers District
The last development proposal came from Lincoln Property Company, a commercial real estate firm that intends to create a made for pedestrians and bikers. The proposal includes more than 68,000-square-feet of residential space, including affordable housing units, 220,000-square-feet of commercial space, 57,000 square-feet of manufacturing and retail space and more than 4-acres of public open space. The proposal incorporates a 3.2-acre adjacent parcel to create a multi-use district connecting the former jail to major public open space on the river.
Residents had the last word as they were allowed to comment on the proposals. Many expressed support for the proposal outlined by WORKS. But many who attended also expressed concern about gentrification and lack of housing for the homeless.
Eunisses Hernandez, 27, grabbed the attention of the packed room as she spoke about the changing community. She said that she hoped this project would lead to something positive for the area and not trigger more gentrification.
“This jail has [represented] pain for the community of color,” said Hernandez. “We finally have a real shot of creating something real for the people of Lincoln Heights.”
Comments by residents will be taken into account as development proposals are subject to further review before a final one is selected by the City Council.
How would you like to see the old jail used? Please share your ideas in the comments section.
Correction: A previous version of this story said the CIM proposal included affordable housing that would be limited to low-income residents. That’s wrong. The CIM plans to include housing that will be available at market rates.
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Javier Rojas is a freelance writer and award-winning photographer who lives in El Sereno
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