Tag Archive for: development

An announcement at last night’s Echo Park Improvement Association meeting (which I am a member of) hinted that the notorious weed-pit known as the Durbin Project has finally been bought!

The 36-condo complex located at 1601-1633 Echo Park Avenue (near Chicken Corner) broke ground in 2008, with plans to open in Summer 2009. Work completely stopped in March 2009 when financer IndyMac went under, and since then, it’s been a weedy unsightly mess.

With potentially new owners, it’s not clear whether work will continue, whether it will turn into a new project (hopefully not one that’s bigger), nor when anything will happen, but we’ve got our eyes and ears open and will let you know when we know more.

Rough outline of where Sunset Flats will be built according to a city hearing notice

Last week, we wrote about the Sunset Flats development – a 60+ unit apartment complex planned for the form Echo Park Community Garden site along Sunset Blvd. and Rosemont. Coming up on Monday, November 22, the city will hold a hearing on the requested variances for the project, including a density bonus. Echo Park Now has learned that there will be no actual decision made on the project, but will just be a meeting with the hearing officer. A decision will be made on January 13, 2011.

Everyone is still encouraged to submit letters for the record as well as show up to the hearing (to protest or support the project) as every little thing does make a difference.

For those not familiar with the project, here’s the low-down (and some updates from previous reports):

  • 12 total buildings with 62 total units (one-two bedrooms) and commercial storefronts
  • 10-11 low-income units will be provided, which is the minimum required for this project
  • Existing structures (approximately 6 buildings with 11 units) will be removed
  • Project is a mixed-use project where the developer is applying to combine residential zoning with commercial zoning under SB 1818
  • 113 parking spaces (101 are required) with 12 of those being guest parking
  • Front of project, along Sunset, will be five stories if the developer gets approval from the city (the developer is arguing for 12 extra feet, making the project five stories at a total of 57 feet)
  • Back of project, along Elsinore, will be two stories
  • All parking will be access through Elsinore street, which will be a terrible impact on that small neighborhood

The bottom line is, the problem with this development is that although the developer can legally build a structure this size, it’s not going to serve the community. In addition, the issue has blown up because of the developer’s lack of communication with the community (including even those living in houses they plan to demolish), and there’s a sense that they are pretty hot-headed. For instance, at the neighborhood council meeting last month, architect Jay Vanos told everyone he could build a bigger, 127-unit complex if he wanted. This was right before the committee voted to approve the project (despite objections by residents), so it seems the threat worked. We do have one office on our side – Garcetti has said publicly that he remains on the community’s side.

In fact, it’s gotten quite nasty. On the comments section of an Eastsider LA, someone who identifies himself as “Al” and has some relationship with the developer (perhaps a consultant?)  writes, “If the proposed building will not be acceptable then we will build what is by RIGHT and then it will be bigger.” Seems a little threatening for someone trying to get the neighborhood’s support.

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The Echo Park Improvement Association is finally getting a chance to speak with the developers behind the proposed Sunset Flats project, the site of the old Echo Park Community Garden on the west side of Echo Park on Sunset and Rosemont.

Tonight’s Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues meeting will not be the first time the organization (which Echo Park Now is a member of) has taken up the issue, but this will be the first time the developer has agreed to attend a meeting.

The city has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, November 22 to discuss the variances involved in the project, so this will be your last chance to hear from the developer and get yourself educated. You are also encouraged to send a letter to the City with your comments for public record, more information here.

Everyone is invited to attend the meeting, taking place at Taix Restaurant in the back room at 7:00 pm tonight (Wednesday). Click here for the full agenda.

This story will continue to develop here on Echo Park Now, stay tuned as we learn more!

Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues Committee
Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 7 pm
Taix Restaurant, 1911 West Sunset Boulevard


The developer is no longer coming to tonight’s meeting, but EPIA members will still discuss the project in detail.

It seems all the Echo Park news these days can be summed up in just one controversial word: Development. We’ve got a 70+ unit senior housing center going up on Glendale Blvd. and Park Avenue, a battle with Barlow Hospital over selling land for a potential 888-unit complex, a rotting structure left behind by developers at Chicken Corner, and a 64-unit complex planned for Sunset and Rosemont Avenue. Those plans plus a lot of promises, promises, promises, and if the Durbin Project on Chicken Corner is an example of how things will go in the future, Echo Park residents will have to start getting involved, well, yesterday.

Sunset Flats, the 64-unit complex planned for Sunset Blvd. and Rosemont Avenue, was (unfortunately) approved by the neighborhood council late last month despite opposition from residents. The site will be where the former Community Garden was located (remnants of the planting still exist) and will destroy 6 existing structures (11 units) in order to build. The whole structure well stretch along 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd, and back to the residential neighborhood of 2216-2218 Elsinore Street.

Architect Jay Vanos has been a regular at Neighborhood Council meetings (attending eight meetings in the past 2.5 years), but did not accept invitations from the Echo Park Improvement Association, which also regularly deals with land-use issues, to meet with other community members and address additional concerns.

Despite the destruction of 11 units of housing to build the complex, the project would include 10 units for low-income residents. The most recent design change proposed at a Neighborhood Council meeting included stepping back the tallest parts of the two buildings so that, on street level, the height of the project won’t overshadow the sidewalk and seem, well, too big. There is also now parking as part of the project, but with access along Elsinore Street.

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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.

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Sunsets must look nice from up high at the 1030 Alvarado Street project

Another high density live/work loft building in Echo Park, this one about to open up at 1030 Alvarado (just south of Sunset). Echo 1030, according to the website, is the “newest, greenest, and most contemporary live/work loft units for lease in Los Angeles.” The 20 units just next door to the Alvarado car wash actually do sound pretty nice: 18-foot vaulted ceilings, central heat and AC, solar reflective windows, and more. What makes them “green” is that it’s LEED Certified. But how long will the development fair and will they be able to sell the lofts?

More importantly, there is an empty lot at Chicken Corner, the Durbin project, that has been undeveloped for quite some time now. Sunset Five on Sunset Blvd. and Portia was having some trouble selling its lofts when it first opened. Developers want to build a 64-unit complex on Sunset and Rosemont, and there’s also an eight-unit live/work loft unit proposed for Echo Park Ave. and Avalon Street.

Just why might we be seeing so many developments of this kind in Echo Park these days? Darren Hubert, a local real estate agent, makes a good point. “They build them here because there is a group of residents in Echo Park that appreciate and will live and work in them.  We have one of the strongest arts communities in the city. We are on the cutting edge of the Urban movement in a city that was build around its suburbs. In Echo Park you still have a sense of community, a walking district, and parks close by. It is the best of what Urban LA has to offer yet you still have a community to be a part of.” And a strong community it is!

While Echo Park-ians (rather, me) certainly welcome the “green” living movement, we tend to be more of a makeshift gray water system, self-installed solar panel type of neighborhood. Sustainable living doesn’t always have to mean brand-new and dense residential structures, and naturally I’m a fan of the California bungalows around Echo Park. But now that’s it’s up and built – someone, someday, will take a look at 1030 Alvarado and say, “That’s were I want to live slash work!”

I recently met a couple of the Echo Park residents behind the new blog/community organizers called Echo Park Life at the Echo Park Improvement Association pot luck last week. What started as a few neighbors concerned with the direction of development on the western side of Echo Park, it turned into a website revolved around getting residents organized and educated.

Residents in what is called the “Washington Heights Tract” around Sunset, Alvarado, Elsinore, Mohawk, and Waterloo are currently concentrating their concerns on two major developments taking place in their part of Echo Park: the El Camino restaurant taking over the old Ramona Theater, and the Sunset Flats residential complex at Sunset and Reservoir.

Sunset Flats is a 64-unit residential complex that, in its original proposed state, will be a five-story complex with no parking provided to its residents. Echo Park Life organizers are concerned with the parking problem, the potential eyesore, and the demolition of six turn-of-the-century homes, among other potential problems.

The El Camino restaurant in the old Ramona Theater (which we’ve written about before) will also be off-street parking for its 200-person seated establishment (with the exception of a rumored limited car valet option). Echo Park Life worry about the parking, the bar open until 2:00 am, and the wood-fired pizza oven burning below their bedroom windows.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, August 7), the GEPENC Planning and Land Use Committee will meet to discuss, among other things, the Sunset Flats project (if any new information is available, it might be the developer submitting some new design plans that will reflect past concerns). Echo Park Life is calling for residents to join them at the meeting to “get involved and come to a meeting to learn about the community issues going on in Echo Park.”

Go to www.echoparklife.org if you are interested in joining the discussion, and follow them on Twitter.