Huge Chinatown development with no affordable housing skewered by neighbors

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Developers were hit with waves of criticism Monday night about a 920-unit apartment complex they plan to build between Broadway and Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown.

Critics say the proposed project, called Elysian Parks Lofts, effectively puts a wall between the state park and a large swath of the surrounding community, which fought to create the park in the first place. One resident called it “The Ugly Wall of Chinatown.”

At the meeting, hosted by the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council’s urban design and land use committee, members of at least two advocacy groups for the state park criticized the project, saying it will block views from the park to the surrounding hillsides and cut the community off from the park.

The multi-building complex would rise on a slim property that runs from the northern side of the park to its western point, near the Spring Street entrance to the park. The Lofts would bring 920 apartments units in six buildings, ranging from seven to 14 stories tall, a two-story resident amenity center, and 1 acre of public green space to the site.

The developers, Lincoln Property Company and S & R Partners, which is run by the Riboli family that founded the San Antonio Winery 101 years ago, have not committed to providing a set amount of affordable units in the project. That was a major pressure point for many speakers, as Chinatown and Solano Canyon are overwhelmingly low-income.

Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council executive officer and developer Yuval Bar-Zemer said it was clear to him that the Lofts would not be within financial reach of the community. (Bar-Zemer is not involved in the development of this project.) Elysian Park Lofts is merely “capitalizing on the large investment the state made on the park,” he said.

The project’s “South Parcel” would be closest to Chinatown; it would abut the Capitol Milling Company building (another S &R Partners project). The “North Parcel” would be in Solano Canyon, near the Broadway Bridge over the LA River.
Via Department of City Planning

Robert Kane of Lincoln Property Company said at the meeting that the exact amount of affordable units was still being decided.

Several attendees also railed against against the project’s lack of transit connectivity. This stretch of Broadway, many noted, is a vital corridor for people in the neighborhood seeking to head Downtown or to Northeast LA by bus. Additionally, the project’s “South Parcel” segment is a stone’s throw away from the Gold Line’s Chinatown station.

In spite of the Lofts’s proximity to two forms of public transportation, not only do project renderings not show enhanced bus stops (or any bus stops at all), but the 920-unit project includes nearly 1,800 parking spaces, noted Sissy Nga Trinh of the Southeast Asian Community Alliance.

To build the project, Lincoln and S & R Partners need approval from the city to build taller than what code allowsincluding a height district change, a change to the site’s zoning, and a general plan amendment.

“You’re asking for massive changes,” but you’re not giving anything back to the community, said land use committee chair Laura Velkei.

Plans for Elysian Park Lofts are in the environmental impact report process now. The public has until February 28 to submit comments on the plans as part of that process.

In a statement to Curbed, Lincoln Property’s Robert Kane says that the developers “highly value” the comments voiced at the meeting, and that they “are committed to a thorough and engaging process … in the months ahead.”

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