The Lincoln Heights Makers District: Plans to redevelop former jail move forward

1949 portion of the jail

LINCOLN HEIGHTS — The city will start negotiations with a large real estate developer to make the former Lincoln Heights Jail the centerpiece of a sprawling residential and commercial complex next to the L.A. River.

The City Council on Wednesday voted to have city staff work on a development deal with Lincoln Property Company and the Fifteen Group, which teamed up to beat out two other rival other proposals to develop the site of the 229,000-square-foot former jail, composed primarily of two large buildings on Avenue 19. 

Site plan of the project submitted by Lincoln Property/Fifteen Group | City of Los Angeles

The winning proposal would combine the jail site with a property Fifteen Group already owns across the street to create what it calls the  Lincoln Heights Makers District.  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 four 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 public open space on the river.

In addition to completing a deal, the Lincoln Heights Makers District faces numerous challenges before it becomes a reality. One big problem is dealing with the jail’s many structural and environmental problems.  A city staff report says:

“The property will require considerable investment to bring it up to current code. The two wings of the Jail were constructed in 1931 and 1949, and the building has not been modernized. Since being vacated in 2014, the Jail has been subject to vandalism and has fallen into disrepair. Reuse of the building will require removal of hazardous materials in order to make the building habitable. Due to the proposed uses, the building will be required to be brought up to current code, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, fire/life safety systems, and elevator and seismic retrofitting.”

Both sides have up to one year plus a 12 month extension if necessary to finalize a development agreement.

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  1. If the artist’s rendering is accurate, the new complex is going to look a lot like The Grove. Wetzel’s Pretzels, The Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch would fit right in. Why not re-imagine the jail as a new form of residential living spaces (bars, locks and all). It could be called “The Jail at Lincoln Heights”. Throw in an ampm mini-mart and no one would every have to leave.

    • Goodness, I hope not. I’m sure the plans are already set in place but I’m hoping for a development similar to a clean LACMA-type environment with perhaps a small space dedicated to a free locally-based art/history museum and maybe a food court and food trucks for the dining options. Maybe a couple PERMITTED street vendors. I’d certainly like to see some more variety as the neighborhood has such limited options. No fast food dining options please!!!!

      I also wouldn’t mind seeing some of our local government offices relocated here as the location appears to be ideal for civic engagement and lots of community activities. I think moving the Lincoln Heights farmers market here wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Focus on family-friendly activities!

  2. Call it “The Lockup at LA River.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. Dangerous men behind bars, see? Thanks
    to that no-good dame that ratted ’em to the coppers. But they’ve gone clean. Yeah, clean. Sippin’
    lattes and eatin’ those kale salads the kids are crazy over. Life is swell at The Lockup at LA River.
    Sure, the good life. But that dame? Still no good.

  3. The “Maker’s District” ?? For real?? Please kill me.

    We all know that at current future real estate prices, no “makers”
    need apply for either living or commercial space. Los Angeles has chased the Artists and Makers away.

    The other commenters are spot-on– call it The Old Jail, own up to it, and it will be a hit
    with the young and wealthy.



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