Neighborhood Council may vote on 888-unit complex in Echo Park

Concerned with the development in Echo Park? Remember the 4-story complex on Echo Park Avenue and Avalon? Fighting the 64-unit development on Sunset at Elsinore?

This one might make those look like small potatoes.

On Wednesday, November 3, the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council Planning, Public Works, Parks and Land Use Committee will hold a special meet to discuss Barlow Hospital‘s plans to update the facilities in order to comply with California seismic codes (retrofitting the buildings so things don’t go bad during an earthquake). Since the hospital was built in 1927 and damaged in 1994 during the Northridge earthquake, the plan is to replace the primary hospital facilities with new structures in order to keep up to code.

Sounds like a great idea, right? Barlow is an important part of the community and we don’t want to see it go away. Unfortunately the original proposal doesn’t just include a new hospital and even some shops, but also calls for the sale or leasing of part of Barlow’s 19-acre land to build a 1 million-square-foot, 888-unit apartment complex (according to an Eastsider LA article, the largest-ever residential project in the Eastside) in order to fund the new hospital structures.

In February, Barlow Hospital mailed out a survey to Echo Park residents, which asked questions like “Please rate your level of support for Barlow Respiratory Hospitals plans to rebuild? High, Medium, or Low.” (The “helllllll NO” option was mysteriously missing.) Also missing from the brochure was a mention of plans to build the 888-unit residential complex – this spurring community concern and discussion that Barlow wasn’t exactly doing the right kind of outreach to the community.

We are aware that the Echo Park Improvement Association has been involved with Barlow Hospital representatives to develop new ways to raise funding for lower-impact alternatives, and also that Council District 1 has opposed this project in the past (we have not yet heard back from a rep for details). We are hoping the Neighborhood Council won’t support a large residential structure at Barlow, and will instead encourage it to seek other sources of funding for the hospital rebuilding.

Share your opinion at the meeting tomorrow at St. Paul Cathedral Center (Grand Hall), located at 840 N. Echo Park Avenue at 7:00 pm.

You can download the Neighborhood Council meeting agenda by clicking here, or reading the excerpt describing the project and the meeting after the jump.


Planning Deputy Susan Wong of CD1 told us that Councilman Reyes does not support the residential complex:

The Councilman supports Barlow Hospital in its effort to rebuild the hospital. Our office has been working with Barlow to look at different sources of funding for the hospital only. With that said, he does not support the proposed 888 unit development at the site.  The proposed project is too dense and incompatible with the surrounding land uses.

Meeting agenda:

MOTIONS & RESOLUTIONS (Discussion Items/Possible Committee Action):

(1) Discussion and/or Possible Action on request from Barlow Respiratory Hospital for committee members to recommend Board of Governors APPROVAL of the Barlow Hospital Replacement and Master Plan Project Environmental Impact Report (ENV-2009-2519-EIR), Zone/Height District changes, Variances, General Plan Amendments, and any additional actions deemed necessary for a project located at 2000 Stadium Way, LA, CA 90026.

PROPOSED PROJECT: Barlow Respiratory Hospital (“Barlow”), the Project Applicant, is a long-term acute care hospital. Barlow currently has 49 licensed beds at its Echo Park location (“Project site”) and existing development includes 110,101 existing square feet (“sf”) of 38 buildings constructed between 1903 and 1972. The 24.98 –acre Project site occupies two parcels flanking Stadium Way immediately west of Dodger Stadium.

The Applicant seeks to replace the existing hospital with a new 56-bed, 83,000 square foot acute care hospital for compliance with Senate Bill 1953, the Hospital Seismic Safety Act, as well as 31,000 square foot administration/support facility and a 17,000 square foot, 24-bed skilled nursing facility (in a future phase). Nine existing historically significant buildings totaling approximately 8,200 square feet would be retained onsite.

The remainder of the Project site would be subdivided and redeveloped with 888 multi-family residential dwelling units totaling approximately 1,050,600 square feet and approximately 15,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial uses. This would be a total of 1,204,820 square feet of new construction.

The Applicant proposes to retain 8,220 square feet and remove 101,790 square feet. A total net increase on 1,196,600 square feet is proposed. Proposed project height would vary across the project site between 35’ and 75’. A total of 1,552 parking spaces is proposed in surface lots for the hospital and related uses and in partially subterranean structure parking and attached garages for residential and commercial uses. Primary access to the Project site would be from Stadium Way, with secondary access from Scott Avenue, N. Boylston Street, and Elysian Park Drive.

Required approvals for the proposed Project would vary by parcel and would include, but may not be limited to, a General Plan Amendment to amend the Open Space land use designation in the Silver Lake-Echo Park-Elysian Valley Community Plan to Neighborhood Commercial, High Medium Residential, and Low Density Residential; a Zone Change/Height District Change from A1-1-VL to [Q]C1-1-L for the hospital and associated uses; Zone Changes from A1-1-VL to [Q]RAS4-1-VL and from A1 to RD1.5 on parcels containing residential uses; a Transitional Height Variance for the hospital and associated uses; Reduced on-Site Parking; a Density Bonus and Parking Reduction for the residential parcels; certification of an EIR; and any additional actions deemed necessary. Regulatory permits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District may also be required.

Note: Proposed Project Description from August 25, 2009 “Notice of Preparation and Notice of Public Scoping Meeting for an Environmental Impact Report” issued by the City of Los Angeles Department of Planning.)

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