Friday, October 21, 2016

Wronske brothers to build again in Silver Lake*

Builders and brothers Kevin and Hardy Wronske are recognized as helping prove the viability and profitability of what are called small-lot housing projects that have popped up across The Eastside.  Kevin Wronske is an architect; Hardy Wronske (whose own Lincoln Heights home was recently featured in Apartment Therapy) is a contractor.  Working together as Heyday Partnership, the Wronskes have taken advantage of the city’s small-lot ordinance that allows property owners to carve up existing lots into smaller pieces that can be developed and sold as individual homes.

In Eagle Rock, the Wronskes built Rock Row (left photo), a 15-home project on Yosemite Drive in Eagle Rock that sold out within a month in early 2010. A year later, in Echo Park, the Wronskes sold a pair of small-lot homes (center photo) on Echo Park Avenue in a week at full price. In Silver Lake  the Wronskes are currently building Buzz Court (right photo) , six small-lot homes on Rowena Avenue that will be covered in a screen of vertical fins.  While Buzz Court is still not finished, the Wronske brothers are now apparently preparing to build another small-lot project a short walk away on Auburn Street.

The project at 2722 Auburn Street would be located on the existing site of a small bungalow court and down the street from another small-lot development called the Auburn 7, which was built in 2009 by MASS Architecture Design. The Wronske brothers also plan to build seven homes on their site, according to Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov, chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Councils Urban Design and Preservation Advisory Committee.

What do the Wronske brothers have in mind for their project? The Eastsider is seeking more details on the project.

*Update: Kevin Wronske provided a few more details:

The project will definitely be LEED certified, most likely at the Gold or Platinum level, like Rock Row and Buzz Court. It also takes advantage of the alley as its primary vehicular access instead of Auburn Street. There will be numerous floor plans ranging from 2 bed/2 bath at about 1300 sq. ft. to 1800 sq. ft. 3 bed/3 bath.

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  1. Dear Eastsider, wasn’t the home on Echo Park Ave which had been sec
    8 housing sold to HUD for rehab??? Back to low income housing!.
    If so how did the the Bro’s end up with the property ???

  2. These drastically undersized homes should not be allowed in the same zone as regular sized housing. These things are the width of trailers, but three or four stories tall — monstrosities.

    They should be relegated to their own zones, just as trailers are. They are a VERY bad mix for a neighborhood of regular sized housing. Let them be built — but in their own areas.

    There is a long list of things to worry about with these tiny place over the years going forward, from lack of proper maintenance due to a very high rate of transiency because no one really wants to stay there longer than they have to, to overcrowding, to loss of setbacks (inevitably, most of them tend to build on what otherwise would be setback), and more, including the general ambience one would expect in a neighborhood of regular size housing.

    • You should note that this would put an end to affordable housing. If every house has to have large set backs then only people who can afford to pay for them will live here. Now maybe you want gentrification to happen, but if you agree with the people that oppose it then this is exactly what the neighborhood needs to guarantee a mix of sizes and styles, so that it’s not just a monoculture of yards and single family homes.

  3. RE: 2722 Auburn – 7 homes squeezed onto a 9,700 sqft lot sounds like a bit much. Sigh.

  4. Henry, the zoning concepts you espouse are outdated and have caused many problems. Not the least of which is the pushing of multis to commercial corridors where they can only be viable if they are ridiculously huge.
    The fact that they are narrow and remind you of trailers is your own personal aesthetic problem that should have no recourse under the law. Unfortunately, some people think that only their aesthetic is the acceptable one and lobby government to enforce it.
    Your arguments about maintenance and transiency are baseless attempts to monger in fear. Do you have any evidence that people only maintain large houses?
    The setback issue is another aesthetics issue that it far too limiting in its current form. The idea of the expansive front yard setback is grounded in reference to English Picturesque movement with the intent of creating a green pastoral feeling of wide open continuous spaces. Why should that be the dominant aesthetic in a metropolis? Why shouldn’t different architectural typologies not be explored in order to make the city more livable for all. Why aren’t aesthetics of a neighborhood allowed to ever change once someone buys a house? It’| like they think they own the whole area.

    • The precious thing about these vintage hoods is exactly that they do not
      feel like you’re inside a faceless metropolis.
      Houses with character, setbacks and green spaces
      provide valuable breathing space and good quality of life.
      Compare that to streets boxed in by these cheap bland container designs.
      Keep the metropolis- aesthetics in the inner city where they belong.

      • So the borders of what is city and what is suburb must remain fixed for all time? Yeah, tell that to the farmers whose land is now paved over with suburban sprawl in order to further the normative aesthetic you describe. Why should everyone have to drink that kool aid that says that the only way to be happy is in a neighborhood with big green front yards in the desert in an carcentric neighborhood with white picket fences?

  5. If you’re building out to the lot lines – where do the trashcans go on trash day? Where do you store them? In an undersized garage?

    Build a few less houses and let people have some space and some trees between neighbors.

  6. Don’t know about the Echo Park twins, but the Rock Row project in Eagle Rock was a great improvement over what was there before…ditto for the vacant lot they have filled in on Rowena. While I like bugalow courts generally (a couple of great ones nearby on Rowena) the one they are replacing on Auburn is not great at all and another version of Rock Row in that spot will be a nice improvement to the neighborhood (just hope they consider the heights so as not to block the views/light for the neighbors).

  7. I live on Auburn and it’s gonna suck.

  8. Two Wronskes don’t make a right.

  9. “exploring typologies”- really?Iif this is an architectural “exploration” why is the result always boring dwell mediocrity with maximum build out? You aren’t “exploring” anything.

    • Typological exploration is not dependant upon a particular aesthetic. In this case it is trying a different type of residence that is smaller than the norm. Apparently, from the success of Heyday, the experiment is successful and valuable to people.

  10. People often wonder why they can’t just make cute little craftsman bungalows like the old houses. Simply, the answer is “seismic codes”. You would never be allowed to build one of those old craftsman houses with modern building codes unless there was an enormous amount of hidden structure, probably steel, because they have very little with regards to shear area. This would cause the price to be out of line for the neighborhood. IMO with existing seismic constraints, you get more from the modernist aesthetic then from the dull contemporary aesthetic that is the norm for development.

    • “shear area” ….does that relate to “shear strength” or to hair salons? ..or was that supposed to be “sheer area”?

      • No it’s probably “shear”, which is what happens in an earthquake when the bottom moves left and the top tries to move right.

  11. Anyone who has heard the buzz or seen the stunning interiors of the Heyday projects could not suppose that they are in any way unsuitable for development in any “desirable” L.A. area. Certainly the design/build firm does not go into its projects without first jumping through the many stringent zoning and other hoops necessary to insure quality and suitability.
    I went to see both Rock Row and one of the Echo Park homes and was impressed with the quality of the construction, design, originality and appointments. And while it true that the design is often vertical in order to effectively utilize space and insure views, The Wronske brothers are local builders who know their trade and their clients, and are driven by a desire to create fine housing at reasonable prices, especially for young working urbanites.
    The architecture of attractive neighborhoods within easy commuting distance to the heart of a city need not be limited to “traditional” styled homes or to sprawling acreage affordable only by those in the 1%. A smart mix of design enhances a community and introduces a new level of diversity. In urban areas, it should be possible to creatively maximum the use of limited space without being criticized for not conforming to the existing mold. Isn’t that what innovation is all about? Isn’t that what’s happening in every competitive first-class city in the world?
    Doesn’t it seem a bit presumptuous for one of the commenters to assert that buyers of Hey-Day homes must all be “transient, ” since, according to him, they would not want to live in “that kind of place” for too long! People move for various reasons — and they buy for distinct reasons, too. There’s nothing shabby about the Wronske’s LEED-certified signature projects, but there does seem to be something shabby in the suggestion that well-priced, well-designed housing doesn’t belong in a neighborhood where big lawns (and big water bills) already exist. I suggest those who are overly-critical of the effective utilization of space that helps cut down on waste and the cost of commuting, take a gander at urban blight and see if there is any resemblance.

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