In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission has rejected two appeals which sought to block the construction of a large apartment complex just east of Barnsdall Park.
The project from developer Carmel Partners, which was approved by the Planning Department in August 2020, would rise from a 33,000-square-foot property at 4629-4651 Maubert Avenue, replacing 13 existing apartments built between the 1920s and the 1970s. Plans call for the construction of a new eight-story edifice containing 153 one-, two-, and three-bedroom dwellings above a two-level, 84-car garage.
TCA Architects designed the podium-type building, which would consist of five levels of wood-frame construction above a three-story concrete podium. A U-shaped setback above the third floor would be used to provide space for a pool deck, while additional open space would be located in a rooftop space facing northeast.
Carmel Partners obtained entitlements for the project using Transit Oriented Communities incentives, which permits increased density, height, and floor area due to the property's location near the Vermont/Sunset subway station. The incentives are provided in exchange for agreeing to set aside 17 of the apartments aside as deed-restricted extremely low-income affordable housing.
Two appellants - the Los Feliz Preservation Coalition and the Los Feliz Improvement Association - sought to overturn the City's approval of the Maubert Avenue development, arguing that the Transit Oriented Communities incentive program is illegal, while also contending that the project is incompatible with surrounding strucutres that are both older and smaller in scale.
Commenters in opposition of the project also argued that as the project would replace 14 existing apartments subject to the rent stabilization ordinance, the new complex would result in less affordable housing than advertised. However, as none of those currently vacant units are subject to affordability covenants.
A staff response to the appeals, finding no evidence for the claims made by either organization, recommended that the project's entitlements be reaffirmed by the Planning Commission.
Commissioners denied the attempt to block the project's construction, but did place a requirement that a blank wall on the building's facade be masked with a mural.
The project is one of several similar projects now in pre-development or construction near Barnsdall Park. To the east of the 36-acre green space, construction is now underway for two mixed-use apartment buildings at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Edgemont Street. One block north of Maubert at the intersection of Hollywood and Vermont Avenue, a project featuring 139 apartments and retail is slated to replace a car wash.
Although the Maubert Avenue development, as noted by the appellants, is larger than its immediate neighbors, it is a relatively small-scale project for Carmel Partners. The San Francisco-based real estate investment firm has built a slew of high-rise and mixed-use developments in Los Angeles in recent years, highlighted by the 11-acre Cumulus District.
Another of the company's projects, 520 Mateo in the Downtown Arts District, has tied the developer to the ongoing Federal probe into City Hall corruption. Carmel Partners recently agreed to pay a $1.2-million fine to avoid prosecution.