Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The new look of Echo Park? Neighborhood council endorses 214-unit residential development

Rendering of Sunset Gateway after changes were made to initial design | Aragon Properties

Early rendering of project | Aragon Properties

The Echo Park neighborhood council has given its blessing to one of the largest residential developments proposed for the area – a 214-unit residential complex that would rise as tall as five stories and stretch for nearly 700 feet along Sunset Boulevard.  But while the council endorsed the project last week, it was clear that many board members who supported the complex would have preferred a much smaller development.  Several Board members and residents expressed concern that the Sunset Gateway on the eastern tip of the neighborhood would encourage similar, large-scale projects that could change the character of Echo Park and hasten the pace of gentrification. “Where is the Echo Park flavor?,” asked one person at last week’s council meeting. “All we are doing is helping [the developer] price us out of our own neighborhood.”

However, the developer, Aragon Properties of Canada, won kudos from several board members and residents for working with the community to modify its development, with the architects adding brick to the facade, shaving a few feet of the height and making other changes to reduce the mass of two large structures.  The developers added ground floor retail and commercial space, and set aside 15 units for low-income tenants. But the while board members said the changes resulted in a better development, it was still too big.

Board members and some residents pointed out that the council as well as the city was powerless in some respects because state law allows developers to build larger than normal projects if they provide units for low-income residents.

“This is still a huge building in the middle of a historic area,” said Jennifer Deines, who was part of a group of residents who formed in opposition to the project.  But in light of restrictions imposed by state law, “it turned out the best it could be.”

Board member Cheryl Ortega said the development reflects a different kind of Echo Park, one with little room for low-income residents and large families.  “Its showing the face of a different community,” said Ortega of Sunset Gateway.

The council’s vote is only a recommendation; final approval rests with the city’s Planning Department.  Public hearings are expected to be held in April and May. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin next spring, with construction taking about 18 months, according to a consultant working on the project.

Before and after renderings of the project as viewed from Sunset Boulevard and Everett Street | Aragon Properties

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  1. Having worked with Jennifer and the We Are Echo Park community group that spearheaded the negotiations and discussions with Aragon to alter and improve this development, I think everyone needs to step back and really consider the (small) steps that were made to try and make this project less alienating and divisive than it originally was. The fact of the matter is there is no way we, as a small group of Echo Park residents, could have addressed every problem, issue or negative feeling associated with large scale developments in our neighborhood. This project, and the other type of projects like it that are soon to follow, are never going to be “perfect” on our minds; there is never going to be a developer who comes into Echo Park to build a throwback 1920s-esque building with 10 bungalow units, or who builds units for under $1200/month to appeal to longtime residents. That’s just the state of Echo Park, Los Angeles and the current world of real estate investing.

    What we can do, and what We Are Echo Park did with this particular development, is work cooperatively with developers to somehow blend the developer’s wants with the community’s needs. Our negotiations, as this article mentioned, shaved off several units and several feet from the building, added retail space (where there previously was going to be none whatsoever), guaranteed some minor traffic improvements and transformed the design form an imposing, Orsini-esque white block into a more inviting, less offensive building with windows, brickwork and the like. It’s definitely easy for those not associated with these negotiations to complain about the “approved” building — but do take into consideration that we all did the best we could while being realistic to the fact that we can’t force these developers out, we couldn’t halt the land sale, and that this building would go up whether we liked it or not.

    • No Newbs is Good Newbs

      Ugh, those prefab craftsmen (some made by Sears) that were put up in the 1920s totally ruined the EP neighborhood vibe by detracting from the beautiful well thought out Victorians that have been here since the late 1800s. It’s a bummer you people had to start taking up all the empty lots with those things. You are responsible for creating the origins of over crowded neighborhoods in Los Angeles. If anyone here lives in one you should remove it asap and get out of town so we can restore EP to its original Victorian roots.

      • Um….What exactly do you mean by “you people”?

      • Newbs: A massive 214-unit building going up in a HPOZ neighborhood with limited infrastructure to support several hundred new residents is leaps and bounds different than having different styles of single family homes in a particular neighborhood. Please save the sarcasm for something else. You’re insulting the long hours and hard work put into making this development more inviting for longtime residents.

        • No Newbs is Good Newbs

          @Kat Now that you are asking that the sarcasm be put aside for something else, I will do that.
          The truth is we have evolved into a species who enjoy living close to each other to reap the benefits of a community without the long term understanding of what this means on our environment. The argument for or against building anything is like trying to find the best seat in a crashing airplane. So to you, the development company and anyone who has worked so hard on either side, your acts are pointless and mean nothing to the long term good of our planet. Any outcome is bad and counter to our survival. Everyone involved is wasting their time. If you really want to make a change, start doing something that is 100% counter to the entire conversation. I suggest leaving the city for a piece of land where you can live like we are meant to live sans the modern belief that you deserve to have everything you want when you want it. That is, if you really care you should stop letting a brick facade on a condo-complex come between you and really changing the world. You are buying into the illusion of choice, letting that distract you into believing something is really going on and that you make a difference. Ensuring our eyes are further pleased by the surroundings are adding to the illusion that we are doing the right thing, which we are not. Here is the hard part, you are actually furthering our problems by trying change the look to fit the area. The results are a slightly less benign encroachment of large scale projects and corporate takeover. A “Hey, that place looks great! It fits the area well!” is what a portion of your goal is. Better, is not to hide mistakes in well tailored buildings to please our senses that will go a tad more unnoticed. I suggest making them big and ugly to show who we really are and have become. Perhaps then we can see we have done to ourselves.

          • Albert Camus, is that you?

          • “The argument for or against building anything is like trying to find the best seat in a crashing airplane.”

            Exactly. Newbs, I’m surprised that you, of all people, would fail to see the big picture here. It’s not about leaving the city and working the land “like we were meant to live.” It’s about getting off the crashing plane altogether. In southern California, we have the unique opportunity to join SpaceX and make it happen. The real future is in the stars. Everything else is just buying in to the illusion of choice.

          • Ridiculous. You are proposing that we live in a world of only black and white. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be either jam packed high rises or middle of nowhere in the desert. Yes, Echo Park will look very different in a few generations (if not one), but we can still do what we can to preserve it. To hold onto culture, design, and the stories of what was built. To look around and see buildings that aren’t soulless monstrosities where you can see the profits guiding every decision. What once was will all come crashing down, but we should do our best to give our neighbors, our children, and perhaps our children’s children the special side of this great little part of the world. For as long as we can, we shall fight it. Stand up and be counted.

    • Well said! The design looks much improved over the original illustrations, and night and day compared with anything Geoff Palmer touches 🙂

      Just curios, what kind of traffic improvements did the developer offer? I think if anything, the area could use more attention to pedestrians (perhaps a ped-activated crosswalk at the projects west end, to calm speeders and better connect the two sides of the street?)

      • I will have to double check — but do know that, unfortunately, the traffic study done for this project concluded that there would be no adverse traffic impacts as a result of this project. (Personally, I was always very skeptical about that.) This affected the types of traffic improvements that we could reasonably get through the negotiations.

        However, the developer and CD1 agreed on things like: Updating the Sunset/Everett crosswalk, making the parking lot a ‘Right Turn Only’ exit onto Sunset, conducting a follow-up traffic study once the building opens, etc. Last I knew, these are items the developer rejected: intersection improvements; re-striping; traffic calming; traffic plan for Dodger days; pedestrian safety signage; parking solutions for the estimated 60 extra cars that will not have parking in the garage. However, I’m not 100% sure if any of those things were agreed upon in the last hours of negotiations.

    • BTW, I criticize this article — no where in this article does it tell us anything about what blocks of Sunset this is on, or even what side3 of Sunset! Where is this to be going in?! How many blocks is 700 feet — sounds like maybe three blocks. How did a single foreign developer manage to buy up EVERYTHING for several blocks?! Where else in Echo Park and the surrounding neighborhoods is EVERYTHING for multiple blocks being bought up by a single buyer?

      Also, you repeatedly said “low-income housing.” NO! It is not for low-income housing; that density bonus you speak of is for affordable housing, a HUGE difference, often misunderstood to be for low income. Gee, the city considers $1,600 a month for your typical one-bedroom apartment to be affordable housing! Those units are not for low income.

      Now to my main comment: Actually, people have to stop saying nothing can be done, the zoning or a density law allows them to have this and there is nothing we can do. Actually, those are NOT the only laws that must be followed, and people telling you they are are simply hoodwinking you.

      This has been a major problem in LA for the past decade or more, that kind of lie. “By-right” does not mean they have a right to build that, although that is how the term is used to trick unsuspecting residents. Actually, “by-right” merely means the zoning provides for what they propose, and yes, they have a right to build to the zoning — ALL ELSE NOT CONSIDERED. But the zoning and density bonus laws are not the only laws that apply. All the laws must be considered together, zoning cannot be considered in a vacuum.

      For instance, the state also has the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which does address many of the issues that people often complain about these oversized developments. CEQA is not simply about rare salmanders and endangered species, it encompasses all kinds of things, from impact on traffic to impact on such things as schools in the area and general infrastructure, to even views of surrounding properties, and any number of other things. Where is the Environmental Impact Report on this project — how can the Council let this go on a negative declaration of environmental impact, which allows them to skip doing an EIR?!

      Yes, there is plenty that can be done if there are real concerns and complaints. There is no such “by right” that blocks you from doing the right thing, because the”right thing” is imposed by other laws that also must be followed. Next time you hear someone say nothing can be done or that the project is “by right,” yell at them that they are lying through their teeth. Do not tolerate that kind of hoodwinking.

  2. Good thing this massive new development is near transit.. so all those new residents will walk/ bike/ rail to all the places they need/ want to go… as to not further clog our streets and add to congestion, pollution, inefficiency, lower quality of life.

    oh, wait…

    • The project added retail, which will improve neighborhood options for those who choose to walk (although, I think they could’ve added a lot more by reducing parking.)

      A bike lane continuation from Douglas to Union Station is in the city’s bike plan (although admittedly, the grade makes that route challenging if you’re heading west.)

      And there’s several bus lines (and even taxis these days) running up and down Sunset at all hours. This corridor is also on Metro’s long term radar for light rail, so infill development can only help in that regard.

      Heck, if the city just improved the streetscape and freeway over/underpasses with a few more crosswalks, better lighting, landscaping and some trees, people might be inclined to just walk to work in the civic center from here. It is, after all, one of the largest employment centers on the west coast!

      You can’t honestly be surprised to see mid-rise apartments built a half mile from downtown, on major streets. We do live in a city.

      • a city that was not originally designed for stack and pack housing…

        • TF:

          Cities are manmade and are constantly changing and adapting to the needs of their populations. Was NYC ‘ designed for stack and pack housing’? of course not. it’s infrastructure adopted. That is what LA is and will be doing. Cites are never a finished product. they constantly evolve. LA is behind on transporation infrastructure, but we are building it out at a fast rate. It may take decades or even a century top realize the goal of a full metro system county wide, and a non-car centric city. yYou and I may be long gone, but is that a reason to not do it? There WILL be a Los Angeles in 100, 200, 500 years. Making that future metropolis the best it can be starts now.

          I agree with you on some topics, but the issue of density is something you are constantly deriding and being snarky about. Yet you never seem to have a real alternative. In the past you’ve said that people should just stop moving here. That’s great. I’d like money to grow on trees and to take a jetpack to work. But we live in the real world where large population and demographic shifts are happening to our region, nation and world. We do the best we can to guide and adapt. out burying your head in the sand and hoping things go back to the past is not a real plan. From your other viewpoints, you seem like a problem solver. So take a larger look at things and start thinking about real solutions.

          • I agree cities are always changing.
            My argument is that supporting infrastructure needs to happen either before or in tandem with growth.. not after. Saying that density is good at this location because metro will build rail here (10-20 years from now, perhaps) is a bad solution.

        • TF: A fan of instant gratification, are you? Change takes time, it can’t all happen simultaneously but we can steer the direction for the future so that our eventually L.A. can be a great multi-modal city with some sensible density. Your solution to have things happen in tandem only works if the government owns all the land and money is not an issue…

          Stacking and packing? Better than sprawl, which is the alternative.

        • @salts and really :
          is there any point at which y’all would limit growth or do we continue to allow population density to increase ad infinitum?

          as a hypothetical, let’s say tens of millions of people decide they want to live at the beach in LA. Would you advocate the destruction of single family enclaves, such as Rancho Palos Verdes or Malibu in order to accomodate them? Would you put the needs and desires of these new residents, who don’t mind living in high rise apartments at the beach above the desires of people who want (and are currently living) a low density lifestyle in a single family neighborhood? Just curious your thoughts here…

          for me, I don’t universally consider density (or sprawl) to be bad. I think either (or both) can be viable options if designed properly. Density in Tokyo is a great thing. Same with NYC. Density in the coastal regions of San Diego.. and in many areas of LACounty are bad.. imho.

          • You had me until you said density is good in NYC and Tokyo but bad in SoCal. Why? (On a personal note, I find NYC to be too dense.)

            I would actually advocate less housing along the coast, have more of the coastal land be natural and accessible to the public. This is good ecologically and prevents us from destroying our natural regional appeal.

            By promoting density we are advocating growth limits. Without growth limits sprawl ensues and nature is destroyed.

            So we agree that there can be a balance, but can you clarify why do you oppose this development? Sure ideally it’d instantly come packaged with a light rail and walkable district. But in reality these things take time to achieve, wouldn’t you agree?

          • If you’re being honest in your inquiry TF then these are great questions and deserves succinct answers.
            In brief, we should build as you’ve noted where infrastructure already exists. The LA Metro is nearing 100 miles in reach with 80 stations, more than BART. We should upzone around all stations while respecting the character of the existing neighborhood. For instance, around the South Pas station on the Gold Line shouldn’t be upzoned to Wilshire/Vermont standards obviously, but both residential and commercial density should be allowed to increase. In both these cases, gladly I can report that this has happened. South Pas as well as Pas has built more housing and commercial around their stations while attempting to preserve the surrounding character.
            Sunset is one of those thoroughfares that had rail transit, built densely around it at the time only to see the infrastructure ripped out. So really, the issue isn’t that the city is growing without building infrastructure, the reality is that the city had already reached 1 million people by 1930, was multi-modal only to have its major infrastructure, the streetcar which was the backbone of the city, ripped out. Hence, where we are in 2014.

          • thx Fallopia and Salts for the replies.
            My feeling, is that IF we must build.. then we should restrict the building to be within the 1/2 mile of existing transit… and by that, I really mean rail (or streetcar) because, realistically, the people who buy these condos are not likely to ride the bus.

            Additionally, I think we need to be honest with ourselves that the existing transit infrastructure is not dense enough to be a viable alternative for *most* people. That means that *most* of these new residents WILL own and use cars. Sure, they may drive less than your average Angeleno, but they’ll drive nonetheless. This means there will be more local miles driven and congestion will increase. This is just the reality of LA’s current design.

          • I think we should have some regional (and local) based metrics where we can objectively track the impacts (good or bad) of all this development. If it turns out that total vehicle miles traveled actually decreases (not per capita VMT, but total), then I’d change my tune and be supportive of development (in most places). These metrics need to be both regional and local.

            However, if (as I predict will happen) congestion continues to increase as more residents are added.. we need to have some set of metrics that tells us when we need to stop. There may be other resource contention issues (like water) that cause us to stop prior to reaching congestion limits…

          • because here in Pasadena, congestion and traffic have grown proportionally to the increased housing density (and nearing westside painfulness).. despite the bulk of the density being accessible to the Gold Line

          • @True Freedom: I pretty much agree with you re: focusing most density within a half mile of rail stops (we should also reduce parking in those areas too… carrot and stick.)

            And yes, I agree there is a limit to growth. We obviously have the water issue to think about.

            However, I think Sunset is fair game for moderate infill and reduced parking. Sure rail is at best 20-30 years away, but it has excellent bus service for Los Angeles (Rapid lines, 10 minute headways much of the day, etc.) And it’s not all poor people on the bus… ride the 2 at rush hour and you’ll see what I mean.

            Clearly there’s demand to build in the area. So I think it should occur here (and up at Vermont by the red line), rather than up in the hills or on streets without such things (like the mid rises by the 5 on Riverside.)

            And I also think the city needs to address the public realm. Southern California is growing and traffic will get worse no matter what we do. We just need to give people the options to avoid it. Light rail, traffic calming, crosswalks, bike lanes and conventional urban housing are tools in that toolbox. Building more parking and wider roads in LA is like giving a fat man a bigger belt.

          • @corner soul : so cal is growing because we are allowing it to. Yes, owners have rights to develop, but there are other tools to limit growth.. via resource contention, whether that is traffic problems, water problems, etc. Those in the political realm are all too happy to approve new development, because there’s alot of money in the deal.

            Ironically, increased density is going to make it much much harder to add other infrastructure such as bike lanes and traffic calming such as road diets (or both).. or things like street cars. Even if they change the metrics about levels of service and traffic load that need to be evaluated before a diet/ bike lanes can be added… there will be significant public outcry if we try to diet when there’s tremendous congestion already.. and by adding high density housing, I guarantee you’ll be increasing congestion…

            RE: parking – well, you know we have very different opinions here. If you clamp down on parking.. in residential areas, you’ll still have people with cars, and they’ll simply clog up street parking. In business districts, those businesses will lose a segment of their customer base.. those who want/ need to drive. It will make it more difficult for businesses to stay alive.

            Additionally, in more extreme cases, you’ll actually do more environmental harm than good as people vulture for parking… needlessly keeping cars on the road, needlessly burning gas and creating congestion.

            We’ll just have to disagree on all this stuff. There are areas of town where you’ll get your wishes. Time will tell which one of us is right

      • TF is really being sensible. And all the comparison to NY is just comparing apples to oranges. Franky, there are a LOT of former New Yorkers in Los Angeles — because they really did not like that over-density and being forced to slug around everywhere on foot and transit.

        Still, despite the suggestions to the contrary, New York is wall-to-wall, bumper-to-bumper cars everywhere — and that would not be if your suggestion were true about how pleasant and wonderful it is to ride transit if only Los Angeles would put in trains everywhere — that’s just Fantasyland thinking. Besides, we already have transit EVERYWHERE — its called the bus, and the bus can be much more flexible than a train.

        New York got it wrong — and we should not be so dead set on copying that which is wrong. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find any of the wealthier people in New York riding the subway — they go by car, whether their own limo or a taxi, but nonetheless. All this crap about how wonderful it is not to have a car — if it were, you would not have to bludgeon people into it, make it so no one but rich people can afford it — and see that those who can still afford it vote with their feet, their feet in the car.

        All this crap about getting rid of the car is really just a matter of telling the less affluent people to get the hell out of the way, rich people are coming through and are tired of you being in their way. And seriously lowering the standard of living of those already on the lower levels.

  3. As a past resident of Everett Pl. all I can say is wait for Baseball season to begin with all the traffic of Dodger games in that area and try to cross onto or off of Everett, what is needed is a traffic signal for the residents at Everett & Sunset.

    • Agreed!

      It would greatly benefit residents on game days (and the community as a whole when there is no traffic) if Sunset had traffic lights at many more intersections.

      Omitting them (presumably to save money and maximize speed) encourages people to race from light to light. This is unsafe, hurts property values, and just creates more intense bottlenecks as people hit 35-40 only to slam on their brakes 100 feet down the road, instead of driving at a smoother urban flow.

  4. I commend the Neighborhood Council for working with the developers to come up with a better alternative. I like the design and I think that brick work on the facade will be much preferable to seeing another stucco box. I really love that suggestion and hope that the developer follows through in good faith. I do think that it will be very important to get the public realm improvements right. What are the street trees (shade trees and not palms, I hope!!) and what is their spacing? There should be a combination of street trees and understory planting. That’s my 2 cents. Otherwise, kudos to the neighborhood council and community.

  5. Nice. Anything to replace the run down empty and dilapidated buildings along that stretch of Sunset would be welcome (as long as it isn’t the Orsini – I look at that fortress monstrosity and compare it to the new Chinatown apt complex and the Orsini is such a street-life killer. This Sunset Gateway along with the Elysian LA, could really help jump start this moribund section of Sunset. Hopefully some of the more historic brick buildings can be retained and renovated to retail and restaurants. Regarding “Where is the Echo Park flavor?” I think this adds NEW flavor to the area — EP isn’t a static museum museum but a living growing changing entity, and has been since it’s inception, this is just part of that change. If they were looking to build this say in the middle of a bunch of Single family homes, it would be inappropriate, but along Sunset Blvd, it seems to fit.

  6. this project has the potential to set the precedent for the higher-density infill which is inevitable along sunset in echo park. thanks to all who contributed to make it a more attractive solution than what was originally presented. we must remain vigilant with these developers, and prevent any and all potential geoff palmer monstrosities!

  7. What is really missing here is:
    Are these REQUIRED elements that the developer agreed to, or are they just things the developer said they would do that will quickly be forgotten once the developer sells gets the entitlements for the LAND USE approved by the City.

    The devil is in the details and the details and the details will bite you in the ass every time. The developers have a whole lot of money riding on these projects and count on you and the City not looking for exact wording.

    Developers like to get the neighborhood hooked into the “look” of the building and not the important stuff like traffic plans, ingress/egress, setbacks, crosswalks, low-income units – which btw – 15 units out of 214 set aside for low income? that’s not even 10%! Come on! How many units are they demolishing for this behemoth? How many parking spaces do they get to give up for that pathetic number?

    • Jaded: These were all agreed to by the developer. There were many more benefits — some of which we found extremely beneficial — that were not agreed to and were left out of the deal. What little we were able to get are being implemented either by CD1 or the developer.

      You were not involved in the negotiations, so I kindly ask that you not paint the community group that helped bring the project to the state you see here as lazy or blinded by pretty renderings. I assure you that we, especially Jennifer, fought really hard on increasing the number of units, making sure local businesses and not chains were given first priority in the commercial units, trying to get a second traffic study added, adding a ‘Right Turn Only’ out of the building, adding public spaces, moving the building back several feet, etc. At the end of the day, there were some issues the developer was not interested in negotiating on, and unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything about it at that point in time. To suggest we were ignorant of these much more important issues and only focused on design is rude.

      The number of low income units are what’s required by the height variance the developer applied for. Had they not gone this route, there probably wouldn’t be any low income units at all — so it’s great that there are at least some, instead of none, yeah? (Yes, more would have been great — but I am going to echo my earlier comment and say that there are some things developers in desirable areas just don’t care about; making a small stride is better than having a developer ignore the needs of the local community altogether.)

    • @Jaded,
      You raise a very, very good point. Actually, we negotiated a “community benefits agreement” of developer-volunteered conditions that will be recorded with the Declarations or CC&R’s, as they are commonly known. One of our stipulations will run with the land, while the other 18 points are policies, practices and material benefits that the Developer will perform during the building and lease-up phase as part of project conditions on file with City Planning.

      Some of these benefits included guarantees for local businesses to have first access to the retail space, up to 60 days after initial offering, and use of local vendors for recurring maintenance contracts. There is a VERY IMPORTANT provision for local low-income families who will have exclusive first priority at the units once they become available to applicants. Local is defined at within 3 mile radius. We will be monitoring and posting the exclusive availability period via our FB page.

      We had dozens of pedestrian and traffic-related benefits, programs and amenities that we attempted to negotiate. Some of the difficulty in asking a developer for a crosswalk or a signal improvement is that LADOT is the lead agency, and they determine those things. Ultimately, CD1 came to our aid and agreed with our “ask” for an improved crosswalk and median at Sunset/Everett, so that pedestrians can move more safely. They also offered re-striping to Marion and Bellevue and pedestrian safety signage. We did not get the signal and crosswalk improvements that we wanted at the Sunset & Marion intersection, but they did at least agree to bus shelters. We did not get the pedestrian activated crosswalk we hoped for at the North end of the project by Guisados, where everyone currently j-walks. (Its a bit baffling how the City can push forward this density, heralding the benefits of walkable, commercial, mixed-use boulevards– yet LADOT refuses to allow a crosswalk across Sunset connecting the two sides, declaring that “its a Highway and its too dangerous to cross.”)

      We asked for a comprehensive car-share and carpool program, and what we got was a zip car at the site and charging stations for EV cars. Hopefully this will develop into multiple zip-cars! We asked for traffic and parking solutions that we outlined in detail. What was ultimately offered came from CD1, who will be requesting additional officers for game days (as needed) and neighbors can petition for temporary parking districts if 75% sign on and CD1 provides its support.

      Our request for midnight closing for the retail portion was granted, and will run with the land. This was a very important issue for the many families living next to the project on Everett st.

      There are only four rental properties on the site currently, and I believe two of them are vacant. The Aragon project will be offering 14 very low income units– that would be a Studio renting for around $650 and a 1 BR for around $725. While it would be better to see more low income units in the project, this isn’t how its structured under Cal State Density Bonus law. They only need to have 7% low income units in order to get a 25% density increase (height), so they have followed the rules, like it or not.

      As Kat mentioned, we were able to successfully negotiate for shaving off some height and a few units to break up the massing. Most significantly, Aragon agreed with our suggestion to add an additional 2nd public plaza area at the lobby area (roughly where the Do-It Center parking lot is now) with public seating and a potential cart/vending area. They also added an additional pet area/dog run at our request.

      Overall, we feel that we did the best we could, and it has resulted in an unprecedented set of developer-agreed conditions for the Echo Park area. They have agreed to on-going meetings and community oversight on these benefits. CD1 has offered to conduct a follow up traffic study when the project is complete, in order to assess new data in light of the developments that will have come online over the next 2 years.

      Is it perfect? No way. But, we gave it our best and now, at least, we have some framework for approaching the next one, and the next one after that (and so on).

  8. The we are pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood argument just doesn’t go anywhere. Is it an argument to keep that stretch of sunset dumpy and run down? Or is it the stubborn denial of the laws of supply and demand?

  9. Can LA provide the city infrastructure and services that all residents Angelenos deserve? LA needs smart development that provides a quality, safe community for residents!!!!

  10. Gawd, how dreadful….another “design by committee” nightmare of faux finishes-visions of “Echo 36”. What this project needs is to have context. HPOZ? Nowhere near here…….the HPOZ had NO interest in expanding to Sunset when it could have….sigh..

    This design was far superior previous to the “we are” somewhere near Echo Park input. Just look at the old MWD building….It will sell out in a hot second…follow suit.

    Dear Aragon, follow your instincts, stick with the clean lines of glass and high end materials you originally proposed. The massing and form, granted are improved, but please no faux starbucks brick…..ordinary, and quickly degraded…


    • HPOZ attempted to expand down to Sunset, the City did not want HPOZ on a Mixed-use boulevard.

      No committee design here, only suggestions given: KTGY only added what they wanted.

      @edina — too bad you couldn’t make it to one of the dozen or so meetings that were available to you. You could have fought for the white stucco and planted-on rectangles with corrugated tin accents. Aragon believes that this project, with its “ordinary” brick will be quite a success.

      MWD is steel and glass, no stucco to be found. Can’t do that in a 5-story, type III when profits are foremost.

  11. I too was on the neighborhood committee that help wrangle this property into something more appealing as well as have some sort of community responsibility. I find it so interesting that many people can just throw a community effort under the bus. We sat with the developers and architects over four months as we squeezed in meetings in all of our schedules to voice all the concerns and to address them in the best way possible. As with the GEPENC meeting about this project, people are so quick to shout out their criticisms but to not partake in a SOLUTION. This has been in process for 8 months and for 4 of those months we were in meetings about how to protect our community and learn about the LAWS that protect the developer. No one is aware of THOSE laws or the fact that the CITY wants a mixed use corridor so we needed to work with them. Originally there were NO community benefits. NONE. And now there are 19 that can also be translated to other developers as this area grows. I urge people to show up for discussions and not just point fingers at your neighbor and shut your front door. This is not the last developer that is coming here. #weareechopark

    • No Newbs Is Good Newbs

      @Richard C ” I urge people to show up for discussions and not just point fingers at your neighbor and shut your front door.” This comment section is EP showing up for a discussion and you are attempting to shut the door by fighting back at their notes. If there are more developments coming then listen to everyone here, take notes and rep the EP like you really say you are.
      I find it interesting you say you want to hear from EP and then when you do, you don’t like what you hear. Service comes at the cost of your self, not at the cost of those you serve. Unless, that is, you are serving yourself.

    • For what it’s worth, many of us in the community appreciate the effort (even if we find it difficult to attend the meetings on a regular basis.) Perhaps the NC, or your group can come up with an online forum with public comment area for developments and community projects, so those who are unable to attend the meetings can still voice their support or concerns… just as long as it’s *not* anonymous, that always seems to muddy the level of respect and courtesy people bring to the discussion.

      Anyway, keep up the good work!

  12. Hey…. I live in DTLA and so I follow what’s going on nearby, like in EP.
    That is a biiiig building project going on.
    As a photographer, I would like to point out something I noticed with the “before and after” renditions on this page.
    The left hand picture makes the design *look larger* than it actually would be, compared to the right hand picture.
    Look at the road at the bottom. See how it’s cut off on the left and not-so on the right?
    IMHO the two designs are actually a lot closer in size than they look.
    It makes me wonder if maybe someone did that on purpose.

    • Echo Park resident

      It’s just a zoomed in photo. The developers provided actual building dimensions to GEPENC and did actually cut down on the size of the building — albeit just slightly.

  13. I do find it uncanny that these studies seem to suggest that there is no adverse traffic impact. Same was concluded in Glendale, where there is an unbelievable amount of high rise density housing being built. I call BS.

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