Barlow officials make another pitch for 888-unit Echo Park housing development

Representatives of Barlow Respiratory Hospital appeared Wednesday night before the Echo Park neighborhood council planning  committee to gather support for the building of an 888-unit housing project on the hosptial grounds near Elysian Park.  The presentation was made only hours after Echo Park Now reported that the office of Councilman Ed Reyes had voiced its opposition to the density and size of the development. But that news had little impact on Barlow officials, who offered no indications last night that they were scaling back their project, which they said is needed to help finance the construction of a new $125 million hospital. Instead,  hospital consultants said they still need the development rights to build as many as 888 units to generate the money to close a projected $70 million gap between what is needed to build the hospital and the funds they can raise from other sources.

The hospital does not plan to develop the property, a city historic landmark,  on its own. Instead,  Barlow wants to win the development rights from the city, making the land more valuable and helping Barlow seek a higher price from potential buyers.  The property would then be sold  to a developer or developers to construct all or part of the project. Barlow officials said they will keep a small section of the 19-acre property to build a new medical complex that meets the state’s seismic standards for hospitals.  But they emphasized they must raise money fairly quickly if construction is to get underway by 2013 as mandated by state officials.

While a few residents last night spoke out against the project and raised concerns about its impact, none of the members of Planning, Public Works, Parks & Land Use  Committee who spoke said they were opposed to the size of the development on the hospital’s park-like grounds. However, some members did voice concerns about traffic and the design of the development . The members indicated that they want to find a way to accommodate the needs of  the century-old hospital, which employs 300 workers, and residents.

“I want to support this project,” said  committee chair Francisco Torrero. “There is a benefit for the community.”  Committee member and Council President Jose Sigala offered to allow Barlow to post a slide show about the project on the neighborhood council website.

Barlow officials are expected to return to the planning committee meet for at least one more presentation before any vote is taken.


  1. What exactly is the benefit of this monstrosity to the neighborhood?

  2. *This* is the battle worth fighting. Not against 8 townhouse units on Echo Park Ave.

    Choose your battles.

  3. If the hospital hadn’t been grandfathered in, this new development would just be useless parkland – I mean c’mon like we don’t have enough greenspace in LA already? I’m sure it’s only a matter of greasing the right palms on the city council to make sure we have 888 much needed housing units in the middle of Elysian Park. What could be better? Stay classy LA! See! The lady in the picture looks so nice. What could she possibly do that would be criminal/morally questionable?

  4. just because the hospital needs to upgrade is no reason to destroy a big chunk of the park and compromise the rest of the community. 800 some units is a slap in the face to the surrounding neighbors… their plan might have been to reach big and hope for half, but i think what this will do is MOBILIZE OPPOSITION TO THIS ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER! I support Councilman Reyes in his opposition…

  5. So many questions; How will they mitigate the strain of all the additional traffic in an area notoriously plagued by stadium traffic? How can they even guarantee? Why would someone finance an 800 unit apartment or condo complex when there are already so many other projects sitting empty? Will they keep the historic structures on the site? Adaptive reuse?
    This sounds ludicrous to me…

  6. Myk: While the land is zoned as “open space” please do not confuse it with park land. Barlow Hospital has owned that land since the early 1900s and it is not part of Elysian Park itself. But yes, oppose!

    Lauren: instead of having one developer buy all the land and build all of the units, what will likely happen (if this goes forward) is that they’ll parcel up the land to sell to multiple/different buyers. So things might be built in stages, we just don’t know.

  7. Does anyone know if there’s been an environmental impact study done?

  8. Who cares the Echo Park neighborhood council. People are still laughing about the June 2008 elections.

  9. They said the draft EIR will be available for public review shortly after the new year.
    The weird thing is they didn’t see traffic being an issue!

  10. That girl is poison! We don’t need any more “smart growth” clogging up our streets! We don’t need any “density” filling our lungs with more smog, smoke and cars!

    People – we need to take our cues from the French! No giant housing complexes – and no retirement at 62! USA FOREVER!

  11. Those who oppose this project should not only attend the next Neighborhood Council meeting that addresses it, they should also contact the NC and Councilmember Ed Reyes. Only three of the NC members present had comments and none of them appeared to be strongly opposed the the proposal. In addition, the Barlow Hospital representative had no knowledge CM Reyes’ opposition to the development.

  12. When is the next meeting? Can we use this site as a hub? we need to make a strong stand- early in the process.

  13. OUR NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL is an advisory council it can not set policy it can only give you the opioion of the stakeholders they claim to represent. Well I live in Echo Park 30 + yrs. I’ve been on the board of the clownish NC. and still ask WHAT HAS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL DONE FOR YOUR LATELY. I can answer that, they can spend your hard urned tax money or finds ways to not answer where did the money go? If your really concerned you will find the time to go to the planning commission Ed Reyes is in charge, or you can make a public comment to the city council face to face 10 am call Garcetti’s office or Reye’s office, Parking is still free when prearranged via phone. What can I think of a guy who attacks women and lies, an covers lies for his BOSS, another Councilman Alarcon. This is our NC’s presidents BOSS 18 indictments ALARCON. DO NOT EXPECT ANY PERSON WHO WORKS IN POLITICS TO have your back.I FOUND THIS OUT THE HARD WAY. Stand 100 percent behind what I write. ASK NOT WHAT THIS COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

  14. I agree with the well-reasoned statement of EchoParkLady.

  15. When I would go to my high school’s office, I was sometimes pointed to a sign on the wall which said “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part.”

    Lack of fundraising for decades by Barlow does not constitute an emergency which requires the City and the community tossing all reason aside.

    One can be open to change, value Barlow, appreciate the good work they do, appreciate their need to rebuild and still argue against this ridiculous plan.

    Barlow chose the riskiest, most expensive route possible to finance its rebuild. When it fails, I hope that its board realizes that the blame lies with Barlow’s leadership and not with the community.

  16. Anyone who drives through this area during rush hour knows how bad the traffic can be.

  17. This project reeks of greed and deception! A housing development of this magnitude will have a tremendously negative impact on traffic, pollution, noise levels and the surrounding park environment. A hospital upgrade seems reasonable enough, but why this tacked-on huge housing? Wait until the big box stores get wind of what’s going on and they start itching to get a piece of the pie. Dodger Stadium was put in place because thousands of residents were forcibly removed from their homes after the city mishandled that situation years ago. It looks like not much has changed.

  18. Barlow Respiratory Hospital is privately owned. The 25 acre property on which Barlow Respiratory Hospital is located, sits next to Elysian Park. It is not part of Elysian Park.
    Dr. Walter Jarvis Barlow purchased the Barlow property around 1902 from J. B. Lankershim. After purchase from Mr. Lankershim it continued to be privately owned. Correct descriptions of the property identify the Barlow property as next to Elysian Park or near Elysian Park.

  19. I work at Barlow and live near it.
    Quite a few of us EP residents would lose our jobs.
    Who was here first you or the hospital.
    Some people on here sound like the Nazi’s are moving in.

  20. Clarification: it was overheard that a couple of community members were telling other community members that if Barlow cannot keep the hospital open and goes out of business the Barlow property would become part of Elysian Park. This is incorrect. If Barlow goes out of business the land is owned by Barlow and would be sold by Barlow.

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