Thursday, October 20, 2016

Developers stir up turmoil on Temple Street

Rendering of 69-unit apartment complex at Temple and Union/PSL Architects

Rendering of City View Apartments/4 Site Real Estate & Holtz Architecture

When Elizabeth Fischbach opened her Temple Street bar on the south side of Echo Park three years ago, one of her biggest worries was crime, with a murder taking place right across the street.  These days, however, Fischbach’s crime concerns have faded and been replaced by a new threat: real estate development. During a lengthy Tuesday night community meeting, Fischbach and many of her neighbors expressed their worries and frustrations about some large, proposed apartment buildings that are poised to change the look and vibe on Temple Street – and not for the better, she and others said.

“This is atrocious to me,” said one woman after looking at renderings for a four-story, 69-unit apartment complex planned for Temple and Union Avenue. “I would not want to live in it. I would not want to look at it.”

The project is one of at least three large residential  projects planned for Temple Street in Filipinotown, which overlaps with sections of Echo Park. But more apartments  maybe in the works as developers take advantage of zoning that allows for relatively large projects compared to other portions of the neighborhood.  The Tuesday night meeting of the Echo Park neighborhood council’s planning  committee attracted a large crowd for several developments across the neighborhood, including the 69-unit apartment complex at Temple and Union and a second, 49-unit apartment project less than a block away on Temple between Belmont and Alvarado.

The prospect of nearly 150 additional apartments  being constructed in the area found existing neighbors worried about increased density and competition for often hard-to-find street parking. While the developers for both projects said their development exceeded the city’s minimum parking requirements, residents said they would like to see more off-street parking provided.  “When I get home at night,  there is no parking,” said one Cortez Street resident.

Fischbach, whose 1642 bar sits across the street from the planned, City View apartments on the 1600 block of Temple Street,  said she fears the residents and guests of the new developments will soak up what remains of the existing street parking, making it more difficult for her patrons to find a parking spot. “This may kill me, she said.

Others also criticized the City View complex by 4 Site Real Estate of Silver Lake for failing to provide little in the way of retail or commercial space on the street. Instead,  a parking garage will occupy most of the ground floor along Temple. Efforts by the developers, Todd Wexman and design director Catherine Lorenz, to disguise the garage with landscaping and decorative metal grates, did little to appease critics.  “I think it’s going to be a dead zone,” said Todd Walker, chairman of the Planning and Land Use Committee of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council.

Despite requests to add commercial spaces along the street, developer Todd Wexman pointed out that retail and commercial space along Temple appears to be struggling. “There isn’t much support economically” for additional retail space, he said.

The representatives for the second, larger project said they changed their proposal to include a small amount, about 500-square-feet, of commercial space at the northern tip of their triangular-shaped complex. But the 59-foot high building with a large roof top deck turned off many in the audience as too big and its design to modern in a neighborhood of smaller, brick storefronts, two-story apartment buildings and bungalow courts.

“This is really going to have a terrible impact,” said Union Street resident Kelly Martin. “What can we do to stop this? It’s madness.”

Not much if anything can be done, said Walker, chair of the committee. While the committee and neighborhood council can make recommendations and show or deny support for developments,  they have no authority to force changes to projects or existing zoning, which was adopted years ago.

“It feels like it’s a done deal,” said Martin. “That’s what’s so frustrating.”

Belmont Avenue view of proposed 69-unit complex/ PSL Architects

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  1. I do not claim to know more about Ms. Fischbach’s business than she does, but wouldn’t it seem that having over 150 new, mostly younger neighbors within walking distance to your bar is a good thing? Plus if it means less people driving to a bar, that’s less drunk drivers on the road.

    Also, I’ll just leave this here: http://grist.org/cities/parking-rules-raise-your-rent/

    • I was thinking the exact same thing.

    • I applaud Ms. Fischbach and her neighbors for showing up & voicing their concerns.I heard the meeting was over four hours long.

    • yeah, it’sexactly what she and every other business owner needs. She is working against her own self interest. It’s idiotic.

      • what’s interesting to me is the irony: her trendy bar is part of the reason that this area is looking like a good investment. it adds to the desirability of the neighborhood.

        • Aldo Thee Apache

          Unfortunately you’re all wrong.
          The second people start moving in the first thing they’re going to do is complain about “the noise”. Liz will then be the bad guy and will get harassed by the city until she either moves or they force her to close.
          Apparently none of you developer trolls have ever stepped foot in 1642. Her bar is far from ‘trendy’. It’s very neighborhood friendly and it’s not uncommon to see many locals of all walks in there.
          Fingers crossed it stays open. Stay strong Liz!

  2. It’s all a done deal.politicans sold out our city as of our last mayor. where you people been.
    Its a shame. If ur a renter you will be gone. If your a homeowner your property values will be affected. As for parking try 6 blocks away.
    Welcome to the new Echo Park
    Overpopulated overly expensive

    • Instead of resisting progress, why not be part of it and focus your energy on shaping a better future? It is a lot better than being left behind and not having any positive impact. I don’t get why people are opposing the gentrification of a neighbourhood that seems so run down and desperately in need of a face-lift.

      • Aldo Thee Apache

        There’s a right way and a wrong way to fix that area. Demolishing the character and the property of the neighborhood and replacing it with multi level condos is not the answer. In fact the answer is staring at you from across the street. Notice how neither Liz @ 1642, the paint store or Black Star had to demolish the existing buildings to move their business into them.

  3. I live 6 blocks away in Angelino Heights and I have to say that I am really excited about his and the other residential projects proposed for Temple Street. Temple Street needs all the help it can get. The rendering shows an architecturally interesting apartment building designed by a local architecture firm — PSL Architects. It is WAY better than the fake Spanish stuff on Sunset. People — you should be stoked.
    Also – for what it is worth – I frequent the 1642 a couple of times a month and I almost always park directly in front of he bar — I never have to go looking parking. + I can only imagine more people living on Temple will be great for the bars, restaurants and shops.

  4. Temple needs this development. It will improve the neighborhood. No one is guaranteed parking on a public street. If you want guaranteed parking clean out your garage or move to a building with reserved spots. Don’t use that as a lame reason to oppose development.

  5. I would certainly like to see retail along Temple. It’s a nice street in parts that feels warmer than Sunset Blvd. However, looking at these newer renderings – consider me a fan. This is much better architecture than anyone has built in the area in 70+ years. You can’t win them all, I guess.

  6. I think it’s fascinating to see the two complaints juxtaposed. One complaint is that the new building doesn’t have enough parking (the residents will increase competition for street spaces). The other complaint is that the new building has too much parking (the first floor has no retail and just has parking).

    I think it would be better to concentrate this sort of development along Sunset Blvd, where there are several frequent buses, rather than on Temple, which is more car-dependent. But if regulations and powerful neighbors make it difficult to build on Sunset, then this may be our best bet to concentrate development in the city rather than the desert and mountains.

  7. I agree with Fischbach, its a bad idea and an eye sore. Look at the Orsini apartments on Cesar Chavez, their presence has brought a Walmart and will soon price out small business that have been there for years. Commercial property owners will raise the rent and soon small affordable bars, coffee shops, and eateries will be gone. Plus the design is ugly, it looks like Orange County, its just plain ugly. Further unless they want to pay extra tax dollars to make Temple a wider street, traffic will get worst on Glendale and the 101.

    • I’m with you on how how ugly the Orsini and the rest of Palmer’s developments are, but this building is nothing like that. This will be a plus for Temple and the area.

  8. This just goes to show how insane people are. That corridor is in desperate need of development. I get why parts of Santa Monica, Weho, and Hollywood are concerns since thousands of units are going up…thousands in an already dense market But this is an ultra small drop in the bucket–150 units–in a relatively blighted area. What more could you ask for? And people still complain because they can’t find “parking at night”. I suppose I do support an open forum where people can voice their beliefs but I hope they are ignored.

    It’s not even fair that developers have to be subjected to this. Btw, I can’t take any article seriously that confuses too with to. If it was an accident then there should be some level of oversight and proofread.

    “. But the 59-foot high building with a large roof top deck turned off many in the audience as too big and its design to modern in a neighborhood of smaller, brick storefronts, two-story apartment buildings and bungalow court

    • Dear PHDOne,

      Real people live in “that corridor” now and they care enough to engage in shaping its future.

      Based on the current laws it is fair for developers to dialogue with the community.

    • Right on Oliver, “real people do live here! The “corridor: is not in desperate need of development. Off of temple are rich neighborhoods. What it is in need of is stores and shops (though beverly does have some nice ones) and…. open space/parks. There are No Parks open space etc in all of Philipino Town. None, zero, zip. How can we be talking about development if we are not talking about the space that this new public will occupy? These new buildings will be a great place to drive to the parking lot of and get out of your car and go to bed. Jeez, what’s in “desperate need” is a place for people to “live around here”, not a place for developers to make a buck at the existing publics loss to greater traffic and lost opportunities of humanistic development. Welcome to the snore neighborhood?

      • there is a park and tennis courts 1 block away from this location, and then about 4 blocks away is a nice olympic sized swimming pool. There is another park at Glendale and Lucas. you must not get out much.

        • Michael, you are perceptive, though those are in echo park not Philipino Town or in the “temple corridor”. I’m talking about the neighborhood that stretches all the way from Bev/Temple/Silverlake/1st/Virgil intersections all the way to Glendale- hemmed in between Temple/Bev bisected by Rampart. It’s a large area, I drive to those courts and pool in Echo Park frequently. I drive their in my car, no other choice for me and the family. When you’re neighborhood is contained with large boulevards it’s not really walkable outside of it.

          It’s a good thing to ask more for the city. I like LA and I think it can be much better. Development offers the possibility of change I want to see it change for the better, I assume you do to. Cheers.

  9. I’m not seeing what the big deal is. This stretch of Temple is blighted and is one of the worst looking stretches north of downtown. The people who live here must know that the white collars ARE coming sooner than later. Organic coffee, hot yoga, dog boutiques— it is coming. If you want to preserve your way of life— litter, razor wire, 99cent stores, etc— I hear the Inland Empire still embraces that way of life. Look into relocating on your own before it’s too late. The building looks nice and new, and as a resident of Echo Park, I welcome any and all nice and new development over what we currently have on Temple.

    • Do you even know what the area looks like beyond Temple street? Go a block south on almost any street in the are and the working class neighborhood is well kept, clean, cared for. It is these neighborhoods that are impacted by these short sided developments. They are impacted by more traffic, less parking, no open space. Temple is a freeway right now, and those lots could be used in a different way. Your narrow minded comment is unfortunate.

    • Don’t be so obnoxious and naive. That section of Echo Park has a great little community. While other parts of EP got overrun with bad stucco & ugly low income developments in the 70s, 80s & 90s, the homeowners in this section preserved the still standing Victorians and craftsman bungalows in this neighborhood between Temple and Beverly and unknown to most, there are some great stock. Look at the rest of Union, N. Carondelet, Coronado, Dillon, etc…..This without help with any historic zone overlay from the city. Despite the misconceptions of this section of the neighborhood, these folks have chugged along quietly through the years while the city continued to put money on Sunset and ignored this stretch of Temple. I’m actually for this development but for those like you who have only criticism to add, do something positive instead of readily making such smug responses. Echo Park does not need an arrogant neighbor.

  10. I’ve lived about 100 yards away from the Temple/Union project for over 8 years. I’m happy that after years of attracting crime, graffiti and blight, the giant hole in the ground leftover from the original failed condo project will finally become something BUT and 69-unit monstrosity is not the answer for this neighborhood which is full of 100-year old craftsman and victorian homes. As evidenced by the attendance and responses in the meetings, we have a very close-knit, diverse neighborhood full of people who know and care about each other and where they live. As a homeowner I welcome development in the area, but the development needs to be thoughtful and enhance the neighborhood. These apartment buildings seem like a money grab from thoughtless developers who don’t care about how their actions affect people. A smaller development would be more fitting – condos or townhouses or even single family homes (a crazy thought!)- something that would add to the great community feel we have going.

    The other issue is timing – having 2 major construction sites literally across the street from each other means months of compounded noise, dust, parking problems, etc. Shouldn’t they time these things so it’s not a complete nightmare for anyone living nearby?

    I understand that developers are within their rights by law to do what their doing, and for the most part, the ship is sailed. I do hope that the city can learn from this and update the 20-year-old codes to help protect the integrity of other neighborhoods like ours.

  11. On behalf of Union Recovery LLC, I’d like to thank members of the community for tirelessly waiting at PLUC on Tuesday night to hear our project proposal for completing the construction at 330 N. Union Avenue. Despite the late evening, we were able to make a presentation on the project and receive valuable feedback from the neighbors. Our team is anxious to hear your input directly on our project from those of you reading or responding to this post, and appreciate some of the positive comments above. Please reach out to us at [email protected] so that we can keep you informed about project progress, and let you know about any upcoming meetings. Thank you!

  12. My name is Walter and I’ve lived in CD13 for over 30 years.

    I’ve lived in Hollywood, Silverlake, Atwater but my fav place in the world has always been Echo Park.
    When I finally got it together to own a home, I bought a 1907 craftsman in Historic Filipinotown
    which I’ve owned for the past 10 years.

    When I moved to this neighborhood coming fresh from Silverlake,
    I had big hopes for the Temple Corridor and Glendale Bl as well.
    I thought the neighborhood was prime for revitalization, but afraid of Silverlakification,
    thinking can’t there be a kinder, gentler gentrification, then the market crashed
    and yes we’ve been languishing somewhat ever since.

    There are many well kept Victorians and Craftsmans in our area.
    Admittedly next to awful eyesore apartments built in the 70’s.
    There is graffiti, trash, garbage being dumped in our alleys
    (from outside the neighborhood)

    I see kids with no hope for the future, sour looks on their faces,
    looking to belong to something, they have no world scope outside of their turf
    which consists of a five or six block block radius . . . i’ve seen many kids tagging
    in the alley behind my house, mostly 13 years olds, as well as mini vans with child seats
    with a 40 plus year old man getting out to tag the wall behind my house …

    I’ve watched bright eyed cheerful kids turn into blurry eyed, lost, confused young men,
    no education, no activities, no jobs … no belonging to anything but an open invitation to a gang.

    Tropical de Nopal was all I saw around here so I took an interest in the neighborhood,
    first Joshua came with the Tribal Cafe, then 1642 landed, then the women’s shelter on
    Beverley opened, a beautiful new park off Douglas, a pocket park on Rockwood, the
    swimming pool on Glendale, the tennis courts getting revamped, Echo Park Lake is back,
    so I am very proud and defensive of my little area of Historic Filipinotown we lovingly
    call Hi Fi.

    We spurred me to action was a sign on the development on Temple just west of Glendale,
    on this notice was added “Public comment or concerns will have no effect”

    That got me thinking, how could they be so bold . . . turns out they are right.

    Somewhere along the way, Hi Fi got carved out of Echo Park and was joined with Westlake.
    Not sure what back room this deal was crafted in, but what it means is that is; the rules
    that apply to Echo Park are no longer valid, we are now clumped into a no rules, no holds barred
    developer free for all that looms over us now.

    Where to turn ? How about the “Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council” ?
    Hmm … turns out to be a private LLC, residents from the Neighborhood are not welcome.

    I heard the term Christopher and Christina’s coming. What this implies is that us hipsters
    (yes i guess i am one) We are the new Christopher Columbus’s discovering, invading and
    conquering the new Silverlake.

    That aside, all the locals working hard to make this area vital are victims of our own success,
    so it is disheartening to go to these community meetings, the planning committees, where
    we hope to use our voices, our hopes and our dreams to make our area of Los Angeles,
    cohesive, livable, safe, neighborly, walkable, bike-able, friendly, inclusive …

    meetings designed merely to give lip service to the residents. a facade . . .

    We are told to use these meetings as ‘leverage’ with the developers. to encourage
    them to make changes. What this ‘leverage’ amounts to is adding a shrub in a small
    patch of earth, or changing slightly the design of metal gates upon their fortresses.
    Or if we beg for retail, they’ll put in a coffee shop and they get to build another story higher,
    how about some place for some low income residents? Sure, they put in 7% low income
    and get 25% more units in return.

    So instead of dreaming of vibrancy, vitality, interaction, quality of life, parks, a place for kids,
    shops, somewhere for older folks, for diversity and community, we are reduced to begging for parking.

    Another term I learned was “By right” meaning that in order to attract development,
    they have the right to build their monstrosities, their fortresses, with inadequate parking,
    they have this “by right”, So what looks like a spaceship from Battlestar Gallactica can land at
    Union and Temple into the big hole, and we should all behold in wonder and gratitude.

    If we use our “leverage’ as community ‘stakeholders, and plead for some retail or commerce,
    they’ll put in a Starbucks and put poor Josh at the Tribal Cafe out of business.

    Going to these meetings and reading these comments is disheartening, but i am not giving up . . .


  13. Well, there has been a lively comment section on the recent development south of the 101 in Hi FI. I don’t post comments but this morning i posted a lengthy one and have received messages thanking me for the post. Maybe coincidence, but now the comments are closed, i see that the site is more advert driven and becoming less of a forum for the eastsiders in favor of a presentation of ideas by sponsors with no ability to comment.

    Can you please clarify this new comments policy ?

    I can help you disseminate this new policy and the reasoning thoughout
    the eastside area



  14. All great insight BUT, this is also outrageous to current residents on Belmont and surrounding areas that actually live in the area and affected by the loud construction and everything that goes along with that :-/

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