$500,000 townhomes proposed for Highland Park


Proposed design for twenty-four town home units in Highland Park. | Image provided by developer Williams Homes


HIGHLAND PARK — A proposed townhome project was presented to the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council last week, with mention of the homes’ estimated $500,000 price tags triggering audible gasps from the audience.

Santa Clarita-based developer Williams Homes want to bring two dozen, three-story town homes to Echo Street off of Avenue 52 –  just behind the Food 4 Less supermarket on Figueroa. The 39,108-square-foot  project would consist of  homes ranging in size from 1,500 square-feet to 2,000 square-feet for each. Each home would also feature an attached garage on the first story and living space above. Six additional on-site parking spaces provided for guests of the property.

Members of the audience voiced concern about the project bringing more traffic to Avenue 52, and one member of the neighborhood council called the entire project a “cash grab.” The developers mentioned that they see Highland Park as an up and coming area.

This would be the second project in Highland Park for Williams Homes, which built  Park 9 Homes  a development off Burwood Avenue with homes priced around $800,000.

The Echo Street project is still in the preliminary stages and the developers expect to close escrow on the land sometime in early 2015. The neighborhood council requested an environmental impact report from the developers.

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.

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  1. More that 1/2 mile to rail.. thumbs down. Even if it were, this is stack/pack sardine housing if I ever saw it.
    Love the “private yard” on the rendering.. wedged between the three story townhome and the Food for Less Wall on the property line. Gross.

    • This is like a cheeseburger fan complaining because other people like to eat salads. A huge, and under served, portion of the population does not want to live (and cannot afford) a dinky little ranch style home.

      This is totally appropriate numbers of dwelling units. Hopefully, the design of the place will foster a little more street life.

      For an example of an opportunity lost, refer to the NELA Union lofts on Eagle Rock with horrible anti-human slat fences at 8′ ruining the whole idea of having housing built in this style.

  2. I presume the gasps were most audible from audience members who haven’t been paying attention to real estate prices in their neighborhood for, oh, the last 2 years. Either that, or people realizing that they are sitting on property on which they could make a killing!

    Seriously, people, it’s not like you’re going to have to buy these homes, so why do you care? If the developer didn’t think they could come out making some money on this, they’d never be able to get the lending that they need to finance the development in the first place (primarily from banks that are based in places like Delaware and North Carolina, where their only interest in coming out ahead as well). So, the fact that the developer thinks they can get $500k/house is right now more important to their efforts to get financing than it is to any prospective home buyers (who will, ultimately, be the ones who set the price – not the developer or the lenders).

    • $500,000 for a townhome is still steep, dude. I live on Avenue 52 + Marmion and two months ago $500k bought you a 3 bed single family home with huge private fornt + backyard.

      • Put down the crack pipe and pick up your laptop. You are seriously misinformed about prices around there.

        850sf shack at Ave 52 + Granada asking 500K.


      • Yeah, thanks to David for answering this one. A quick look at the Redfin map shows that asking prices are about in the range that these homes would be asking. The neighborhood may have it’s challenges, but a new 1,500 square foot home in LA in nearly any neighborhood won’t be anything less than $500k.

        I don’t doubt there are still “finds” to be found, but when you’re reduced to making the point that every so often something could be cheaper than what this developer thinks makes sense given their own pricing of comps, etc, well then you’ve already lost this one.

        It’s the continued “fight housing at nearly all costs” attitude of folks who don’t recognize the basic economics at play that is helping to perpetuate LA’s continued unaffordability, as the available housing supply doesn’t come close to meeting the demand. Rather than gasping at the prospect of housing being so expensive in their neighborhood, they should be gasping that they’re not doing more to make housing an option where it makes sense in their neighborhood. I should think an empty lot like this one behind a grocery store near a commercial corridor is a good place to start.

  3. 500,000 home, wait, condo, in Highland Park? LOL. good luck. The area is still too ghetto. I agree with True Freedom, much rather get a home with private yard, etc.

  4. Can’t wait to try and get to 110 while that’s going on… (Some of us work out of our cars). And yes, gross, but people like that apparently. There’s money to be made! Money is everything.

  5. The other development they did off of Burwood is really out of sync with the neighborhood. It looks like a cluster of dental offices fell out of the sky into a older neighborhood with small bungalows. I don’t mind the idea of these developments but it would be nice if the developers tried to visually connect the buildings into the existing community a bit more.

    • This is my biggest worry too – some lame suburban sprawl mongers flush with cash are going to put up some cheap crap with little concern for how the buildings interact with surrounding sites and the neighborhood character.

      They call these “3-stories” but the first floor is obviously a 2-car garage. The web-site for the developer is an advertisement for stucco and wood frame schlock.

    • Agree heartily with SooBoo. Judging by the example on Burwood, I am not impressed with Williams. I’m not sure a mock-craftsman development (for example) would have any been better; my main complaint is with their general site plan, with one house stacked merely a feet from the sidewalk and neighbors. Overall, the development is clunky and obtrusive. It inspires me to take more interest in what is planning to be built in our neighborhood.

  6. If those “urban courts” opened onto the Food 4 Less and allowed a pedestrian passage AND if the elevations on Echo Street aren’t more horizontal fencing 8′ high then I don’t personally have much of a problem with this project.

    I hope they don’t get crazy and add too much car parking. In the impossible world of my dreams, the Food 4 Less would lease or sell parking spaces in its never full parking lot to residents, who would have easy access through the afore-mentioned “urban court”.

    The money they (in my dream world) save from doing less parking could go to better finishes or something better than wood frame and stucco.

    Oh and isn’t it sad that people expect a real estate developer to not be in their jobs for the money? I mean, it is a business, you know? It takes work, and money, and time. I don’t blame people for making a business out of wanting to build something on this scale. After all, we can’t all be money-losing corporate crony capitalists like KOR Group, or Urban Partners, or the sleaze bags behind LA Live and the Marriot, or Midtown Crossing, or … you get the point.

    So, hooray for someone investing in an empty lot! Let’s help them get the details right and stop hand wringing about things that we should be neutral about (or maybe even praising).

    • Sadly, while the Food 4 Less parking lot is never full, it’s also required to be that size by city law. So, while some modification or reallotment might make practical sense, it’s our laws that put private vehicular transportation above all else that ends up dedicating so much space to cars, even in quantities that make no sense. And, frankly, the easiest way for most folks to oppose a development is to complain that it doesn’t provide enough parking, even when it often provides as much as the inordinately high amounts required by city law! In this developer so much as tried to make the project more affordable by leasing space out of the Food 4 Less lot in exchange for building less parking on the property, you can bet your money on the neighborhood rallying around this as a potential ruination to the community that would be overrun with cars parked on city streets. You know, the city streets that neighbors just want to keep for themselves so they can use their garages for storage.

      • If were dictator for a day I’d pass a law making any comment on local land use decisions contingent on showing proof that the speakers car can actually be parked in the speakers garage! Not gonna happen, but it is sad that over-parking and high prices are just how we do things.

        Connecting to the Food 4 Less would be really nice but we’re just not up for it as a business community nor a city planning establishment yet.


  7. I’m all for positive development that contributes and enhances a community. Trying to build a half dozen condos into this space is flawed from the get go! How would such sardine housing compliment a community; whether you want to help it grow in a positive direction or not? This is the time for everyone South of York in Cedillo’s district to send him a message, “NO – to this development!” Encourage the developer to bring forth a plan that will contribute to the betterment of the residents of Highland Park.

    • That is going to be a tough approach to take. Cedillo’s taken lots, and lots, of money from private development interests from across Southern California. He bought his seat on the city council and the little people have “a voice” so long as it sings in tune with his.

      He also has nobody on staff with a planning or architecture degree (or even a passing interest in the fields) and nobody who’s worked on the private development side of things either. They are movement builders, not wonks, in his office – so you won’t get a functioning dialogue with them.

      Either you support what their boss likes or you might as well not bother.

      He supported the HLP Transit Village (but recently shifted city money dedicated to it to a project in MacArthur Park), he supported the facade work and expansion at Superior, he supported the tearing down of the Riverside Drive bridge. Don’t look to Cedillo for a “no” vote on projects like this unless the developer is a total screw-up or hasn’t paid their entry fee to his office.

  8. Yes, of course all 24 homes are going to sell. $500K for 1500-2000 sq ft. of brand-new home with all mod cons and a garage is a fair price. All 9 of their Plan 9 Homes sold for $800K + prices. If people are gasping at the price they need to get a reality check of what brand-new homes are selling for.

    That cement lot that stands there now is truly ugly. These new homes will improve the neighborhood by increasing the real estate values of the surrounding homes.

  9. If the housing development on Burwood completed by Williams Homes this year is any indication, the finished product will be massive, inappropriate to the scale of the neighborhood, and an eyesore. Drive past the beast on Burwood (just west of Figueroa in HP, north of York about a mile) if you want a sneak preview. Ugly boxes dominating a quiet, intimate old neighborhood. These folks have greed as their core aesthetic

    L.A. needs vertical, affordable housing, but done smart. Good design, and close to light rail stops. This is neither. We really need visionary public officials to jumpstart what is still just a concept for a new Los Angeles. Until then, neighborhoods need to guard against big ugly apartment buildings (call them “townhouses” if you like) and the increased car traffic they bring.

    • I totally agree Paul

    • To build affordable apartments with less traffic increase reduce the parking requirements in the area specific plan. Each parking space under the townhouses costs $30,000 or more to build which adds upwards of $60,000 to the price of each townhouse. There is demand in Los Angeles for housing from families that have less than two cars. If you build two car garages in a residence then the added purchase price is affordable only to families with two cars. The nearby Cornfield Arroyo Seco specific plan has no parking requirements so builders are able to build to market demand and not only to buyers with multiple cars.

      • Unless you require that people who rent/buy these new dwellings with no parking cannot own a car (and I’m not sure how you’d ascertain or enforce that) … then, it’s highly likely that the people will own and use cars. Without parking, they will add to congestion and traffic as they continually circle around looking for parking.

        • It is more likely that if these very small 1,500 square-feet to 2,000 square-feet townhouses had only one parking space that they would be purchased by people with one car. People with two cars would look to buy where there are two car garages with the commiserate increase in price. There are plenty of households with only one car that would gladly purchase a one car garage home.

          Households with less than two cars is the most rapidly growing and constitute over 250,000 households in Los Angeles according to U.S. Census data. http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/08/01/l-a-s-real-growth-is-in-car-free-and-car-lite-families/

          Reducing parking requirements would decrease traffic by pricing in households with less cars.

          • The phone is for you.. reality is calling.

            You may have some single car buyers. You may have some 2-3 car buyers who are willing to park 1-2 cars on the street due to the lower price. They may even use their spot for storage and park all their cars on the street.
            You may have some buyers who rent their units .. to 2-3 roommates who have cars.
            Since you can’t enforce who lives there, you can’t ensure anything.

            If there’s enough street parking, this is fine. If there’s not, you’ll get extra congestion due to vulturing for parking. We have friends who live in SF in a home built in the 20’s, so no garage. They bought there because it was cheaper. There’s not nearly enough street parking for all the residents. They routinely spend 20 minutes hovering for parking on the street after they go out. A bunch of needless driving about.

            If the neighborhoods had zero street parking for many miles around, then you’d likely only attract buyers that had few to no cars. I used to live in such a place, and simply parked my car in another neighborhood and either walked, biked, or hitched to it.

          • The reality is Americans are driving less and households with fewer than two cars are increasing. Because your social circle has more than one car does not mean that households with less do not exist. These one car households would be attracted by the lower cost of a one car garage home.

            Building excess parking increases costs for everyone and is especially costly for those without cars who are subsidizing car owners.

  10. Just because a new building is not located next to a transit line does not mean it should not be built. Many people want to take their car while others like to take public transportation. To each their own, yo!

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