Many urban planners favor developments that are built close to the street and feature a welcoming facade to create an attractive sidewalk and street scene. But what happens when the street happens to serve as the southbound exit of the 2 Freeway on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake? Well, then apparently different rules apply. The urban design issue came up as Harridge Development Group seeks support to build 45 homes on a 1-1/2 acre parcel located where the 2 Freeway dumps thousands of cars on to Glendale Boulevard. Harridge wants the homes in its Studio Villas development to face away from Glendale Boulevard and the freeway and to be set back about 20 feet from the busy street.
In a meeting with the developer, some of the members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s urban design committee expressed concern that Studio Villas would serve as a poor gateway to the neighborhood by presenting its backside to oncoming motorists. However, the group ended up endorsing the project after recommending that a more varied and articulated facade face Glendale Boulevard. They also recommended the developer install heavy-duty air filtration systems in each home to scrub all that vehicle exhaust.
In addition to the challenges of designing and selling homes next to a freeway offramp, Harridge must also contend with the rebuilding of the southern tip of the 2 freeway. Lan Saadatnejadi with Metro’s highway program said the first phase of a the project could begin in about two years when the southbound offramp will be metered and re-stripped to create two lanes.
Despite the freeway adjacent issues, Marc Annotti of Harridge Development, which also plans to build 26 additional homes on an adjacent lot, remains confident in the project’s appeal to buyers. Homes will be priced between $400,000 to $500,000.