Housing, parks and shopping center top the list of proposals for the old Lincoln Heights Jail [corrected]

Lincoln Heights jail development proposal

Channa Grace presents project proposed by WORKS | Javier Rojas


LINCOLN HEIGHTS — Residents weighed in last week in response to three competing proposals to redevelop the five-story former Lincoln Heights Jail next to the L.A. River.

The plans represent the most recent visions to recycle the riverfront Art-Deco complex, which was designated a historic monument in 1993 and has been largely vacant in recent years. After soliciting proposals last year, the city received nine proposals before cutting the list down to three. Officials put a priority on concepts that were oriented to the community and would generate economic growth in Lincoln Heights.

The goal is to make the 229,000-square-foot complex, composed primarily of two large buildings on Avenue 19, a “new economic development site that will spur revitalization in the Lincoln Heights community,” said Gerald Gubatan, planning deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo. The building’s revival would coincide with other public and privates efforts to restore the river, where new real estate development is underway or has been proposed.

Here’s a rundown of the three proposals presented at a community meeting last week:

Lincoln Heights jail development proposals

CIM Group concept

The Linc

The first development team presented on behalf of CIM Group, a real estate development firm that has worked on various project, including lofts and buildings throughout Southern California. The centerpiece of it proposal is to create a neighborhood hub called “The Linc,” which would include commercial space and housing and a hotel. It would also feature restaurants and retail stores designed to cater to nearby residents as well as an “urban and community garden” and a community space.

In a nod to the past, CIM proposed reusing some of the former jails as elements in the renovated building “to represent past and future.”

Las Alturas concept by WORKS

Las Alturas

The second proposal from WORKS, a nonprofit organization supporting women and the development of affordable housing. Their proposal features low-income housing and a wellness facility called “Las Alturas,” which would include a daycare center, an art center, pedestrian walkway and gardens designed with children and seniors in mind. About 80% of the facility would be open to the public and include 47 moderate income housing spaces and 66 permanent supportive housing spaces.

“This project is for those that house 3-5 people per home,” said Channa Grace, president of WORKS.

Concept by Lincoln Properties

Lincoln Heights Makers District

The last development proposal came from Lincoln Property Company, a commercial real estate firm that intends to create a  made for pedestrians and bikers. The proposal includes more than 68,000-square-feet of residential space, including affordable housing units, 220,000-square-feet of commercial space, 57,000 square-feet of manufacturing and retail space and more than 4-acres of public open space.    The proposal incorporates a 3.2-acre adjacent parcel to create a multi-use district connecting the former jail to major public open space on the river.

Residents Respond

Residents had the last word as they were allowed to comment on the proposals. Many expressed support for the proposal outlined by WORKS. But many who attended also expressed concern about gentrification and lack of housing for the homeless.

Eunisses Hernandez, 27, grabbed the attention of the packed room as she spoke about the changing community. She said that she hoped this  project would lead to something positive for the area and not trigger more gentrification.

“This jail has [represented] pain for the community of color,” said Hernandez. “We finally have a real shot of creating something real for the people of Lincoln Heights.”

Comments by residents will be taken into account as development proposals are subject to further review before a final one is selected by the City Council.

How would you like to see the old jail used? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the CIM proposal included affordable housing that would be limited to low-income residents. That’s wrong. The CIM plans to include housing that will be available at market rates.

Javier Rojas is a freelance writer and award-winning photographer who lives in El Sereno

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  1. As a resident in a nearby eastside community I’d be excited about any proposal that makes this a dining/shopping destination. Especially if it links directly to the “river front” and bike path. Not enough info here to fully commit but the Walkway District looks appealing. Does anyone else remember what a great destination hub Lawry’s was? Paseo Colorado is a really bad example, but maybe a fresh, transit oriented version of that without as many chain stores.

  2. Totally support independent retail/market rate housing/healthy dinning in this area. There’s so much potential here, we cannot waste it on an abandoned building any longer.

  3. No more low income housing. When one puts low income housing a bad crowd tends to linger around, especially cities that deal with gang related violence. Enough with the low income housing. Start thinking about our city, people and future generations.

    • Show me those statistics and facts please “Fauy”

    • So, Fauy, I guess “our city, people and future generations” doesn’t include any of the working families who are struggling to keep up with the rapid increase in average rent spurred by our city’s housing crisis (a 3.5% average rent increase over the past year according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University). The same study finds that 58.5% of these households are paying 1/3 of their income to rent, and 32.8% of those are paying more than half of their income on rent. I suppose “our people” doesn’t include the 175 families (counted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority this past year) who have been priced out of the market entirely because vacancy rates citywide are at their lowest level since 1985. I’m not sure who “our people” includes, but I think I get the basic idea. It’s insulting to suggest that the families who constitute 58% of our community’s population will automatically draw a “bad crowd” or that they are somehow gang-affiliated simply because they seeking the basic human dignity of having access to affordable housing. Pardon me if my tone is harsh, but demonizing and othering the increasing number of Angelenos who are experiencing financial hardship seems like toxic rhetoric, unhelpful in an honest conversation about urban development in my opinion.

      • These families might be able to keep up if they raised their kids right. But they don’t, kids join gangs, get killed or go to jail leaving parents as they age to support themselves in a community rapidly changing around them.
        Next time you see Caucasians or Asians tagging walls, shooting each other in drivebys I’ll STFU.

        • Got it. So it is about race, not income. Had a feeling. Thanks for clearing that up.

          • He said Families not “Mexicans” I live in this area and i Agree with Phillip! so don’t get offended.

            My fam and I are mexican. We own new cars and 2 homes here because we have worked hard not because we asked for hand outs.

          • he literally said “caucasians and asians” dude. he’s talking about brown and black people.

        • “GLASSELL PARK — The U.S. Postal Service has suspended mail delivery to a stretch of Drew Street, a hot spot of gang activity over the years, after a mail carrier was nearly hit by gunfire.”

          Oh but wait show me facts and proof that low income is great for our community!!!!!! Its called work hard and stop crying for hand outs!!!

          • “LINCOLN HEIGHTS — Police are investigating a car-to-car shooting that left one man in critical condition early this morning. The shooting is believed to be gang-related, police said.”

            OH WAIT more low income homes please!!! what a joke…..

      • I hope it becomes a 4 story Whole Foods!!!!!!!! so all yall can STFU!

      • If you want affordable housing the only way you’ll get enough to make a difference is by reforming the zoning in the city. Get rid of R-1. Upzone everything. Everything else is bs political pandering.

  4. I’ve lived in the area all my life and I like the idea WORKS has proposed. We need more affordable housing for low income families and people who are really struggling not so called “artist” that pretend to be poor or think their the next Van Gogh. Yes, I’m talking about pretentious hipsters. I’ve witnessed the gentrification of Highland Park, Echo Park, Little Tokyo and Silverlake, why can they leave Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights alone? People that move into this areas are mostly are some kind of artists that want to pay cheap rent and do make their hobbies a career. Spoiled rotten adults that don’t know the value of money or know what struggling really is. If they want to continue with their hobbies then get a real job just like everyone else. People work to get by and survive not to be materialistic.
    I’ve seen a lot growing up in this area, people getting killed left and right in the 90’s and people struggling to make a better life for themselves. There’s many people from Lincoln Heights that grew up in poverty and around gangs but still manage to make a positive life for themselves, many with college degrees. So to Fauy, you shouldn’t be targeting low income people and judge them when you even don’t know the facts or what goes around here. I think low income families should have every opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their children. Think of your great grandparents or ancestors, they came to this country as immigrants too, people today deserve the same chance today.

    • Well Id rather have Lazy hipsters that don’t shot each other or do burn outs on my block!! FYI There is low income homes… its called Riverside or San Bernardino!

      • Yeah, that’s what we need a bunch smelly hipsters with no talent to mooch off the government because they choose to be poor not because they are. They should move to San Bernardino and Riverside to be farmers and hillbillies since they already look the part.

    • Same mentality business owners in Lincoln Heights have. They start businesses no one wants that can only exist because of super low rents. Hoarder junk stores. Are those people better than amateur artists who can only survive with super low rents? All these people are dreaming imo. Most people who grew up on the east side moved away for more opportunities because there are currently none on the east side.

  5. Carlos Guaderrama

    Low income housing is needed in the area, low income is the white elephant,everyone knows is needed but no one wants to do something about it. This development should be about the old time residents in the community a much needed science and technology school in conjuction with Lincoln High school that will bring the locol children into today’s advances. Councilman Cedillo and Garcetti need to step up and speak for the future of our communities not the
    Business developers let’s do something positive for our kids.

  6. The Linc = The Clink

  7. Low/moderate income housing = taxpayer subsidized housing. No.

  8. Low income housing is a stressful issue for me. I try to feel compassion for these kids as education quality is generally lacking in their schools and many of the kids from the low income families are logically more susceptible to bad influences in the neighborhood.

    Unfortunately, I’ve caught some of the kids from the low income apartment I live near tagging neighborhood buildings while I’ve also had other kids use racial epithets against myself and my very young children completely unprovoked. I’ve never been back to that playground because I don’t want to expose my kids to that element.

    I completely understand that everyone needs housing, but I think it’s safe to say that if given options, myself and others like me would much prefer to not live anywhere near low-income housing for reasons like that.

    • Very well put!!!! I agree with you 100% I tried to feel bad and help but when my house gets vandalized i honestly stop wanting to help. There is no simple way of screening those who really need the help and most of the time the ones who actually need the help have baggage.

      If anyone here has a suggestion id love to hear it! maybe you’d change my mind on the low income housing idea.
      Until then! I welcome “hipsters”

    • You try to feel compassion? You have absolutely no compassion. You witnessed a couple of kids tagging and suddenly you think that all low income families are bad and the kids are not worthy of having a home. You people are just a bunch of elitists and snobs. If you don’t like it then move somewhere else. Don’t condemned people for having little to no money. It’s pretty sick how people like you think without understanding what they went and are going through. Everyone has a different story of their struggles in life and try to improve it, most of them prevail. Their children become successful with meaningful careers that help people in need because they know how much their parents have struggled. I read these comments on this page and I’m disgusted with most of them. You people really don’t know how low income and homeless people have it because you are all spoiled with everything handed to you. No heart or compassion at all, just pretend you care to make yourself look good to others.

      • Certainly, the racist comments are a barrier to productive discussion here, but your tone doesn’t move the discussion along either. Perhaps that’s not even your intention, I don’t know. Certainly doesn’t help people who aren’t likeminded to take in what you to say. Also, you assume much about the people who comment here.

        Honestly, in the post that you responded to, I was probably more upset about the adolescent kids used racial epithets against myself and my young children at a nearby playground than the spray painting, which kind of sucked too. Frankly, if a certain group of kids stole your car or tagged your home or blurted out racist comments directed at your kids, would you be sitting here defending them to us?

  9. A bigger jail would be the best option

  10. Am I missing something? The area is swamped with homeless, we are taxing ourselves to provide housing for them, so why isn’t there a proposal for that? And LA already owns the building.

  11. Concerned citizen

    I really hope the WORKS proposal comes out on top because while the city’s got plenty of retail/commercial & restaurant options, housing that is within the price range of most working-class families is shriveling up as we speak. Our leaders in City Hall need to prioritize adding living units across the city that aren’t all priced to what the market can bear.

    Because as the OC Register and Zillow remind us – affordable housing across Southern California is a crisis situation . . . http://www.ocregister.com/2017/08/16/rent-burden-in-los-angeles-orange-county-ranked-nations-worst-inland-empire-17th-highest/

    • I hate the works proposal! Not into making ghettos. Let’s improve it if we’re gunna improve it, or just leave it alone

  12. Whatever project prevails likely needs to be able to pay for the development cost and the upkeep, hence the usual housing and retail ideas. Would have been nice to see what a college such as Cal State LA or USC could have done with the building, hiring locals. Seems like the best way to help the neighborhood is to provide better paying jobs so that people can begin to afford these higher rents.

    • the area is already wack and the solution to for improvement is to buildlow income smh people are idiots! It’s such a big building with with a good location with so much potential.

  13. How sad to see so many hateful and racist comments here.

    Affordable housing is an absolute necessity in the city. Lincoln Heights is already gentrifying, which will exacerbate the housing crisis as it continues to price out long-time residents.

    Las Alturas meets a real need of this very working-class neighborhood. Either of the other projects will accelerate changes in the neighborhood, pushing anyone who isn’t solidly middle-class out of L.A. entirely.

    80% of the project is open to the public, including a walkway and gardens. Racists need to shut their mouths with the “there goes the neighborhood” rhetoric.

  14. In his latest video featurette as The Cranky Preservationist, architectural historian Nathan Marsak visits the Lincoln Heights jail and expresses dismay that the city has been such a lousy steward of this art deco landmark. Episode 6: Lincoln Heights Jail Demolition By Neglect Blues

  15. Mary.. I believe everyone here may have valid points. Some are too stupid to and don’t know how to express concerns without being racist. If you hate gangs or people driving fast down your street there are better ways than “kick all poor “colored” people out of LA. Call your local Sheriffs office… Ask to have a speed bump installed, Use your brain and stop spreading hate. I myself grew up in a poor neighborhood and Mary is right.. we strive for better to ensure my parents struggle wasn’t a waste. Don’t let the EastsiderLA site become some hate blog, i like to think as a community we are better than the shit we see on TV lately!

    • Christopher, I understand that you may have insight into this matter that others don’t that could serve as a valuable contribution for many which is great, but respectfully, your personal striving to do better as well as others is not my concern. It’s about dealing with the crime level. What would you do?

  16. I sat in on this meeting and listened to the details of each proposal. The third one “Lincoln Heights Makers District” really made the most sense since they have the adjacent property as well and are the only proposal that will be able to handle any sort of parking.

    They also stated that they have no need to raise any money and can start work as soon as they get the permits.

    We have a gang and homeless issue yes. I’m afraid to leave my home after midnight due to the shootings and drug activity that I witness. I think we need to bring more money into our community so we can hire officers, add more lighting, make foot traffic and bicycling safer and more visible.

    Retail spaces make sense, parking makes sense for bringing outside money into our community and I think the river side trendy factor of an old jail is just the hook we need to make it a hip spot that people will want to travel to for a visit.

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