Seattle-based development firm Housing Diversity Corp. is planning a new micro-unit apartment complex just south of Pico Station in Downtown Los Angeles.

The proposed project, slated to replace a surface parking lot at 1411 S. Flower Street, calls for the construction of a new eight-story building containing 227 apartments – the bulk of which would average approximately 265 square feet in size.

Housing Diversity Corp., which is working with STS Development and Constructions Services, is seeking entitlements for the project using Transit Oriented Communities incentives, permitting a taller structure with less on-site open space than would otherwise be allowed by the property’s base zoning.  In exchange for the incentives, a total of 25 apartments are slated to be set aside as deed-restricted extremely low-income affordable housing.

The property’s proximity to Pico Station, as well as a slew of high-frequency bus lines, will also allow the developer to build the apartment building without on-site parking – a rarity among ground-up housing developments in the City of Los Angeles.

The podium-type building, designed by Steinberg Hart, would be composed of five levels of wood-frame construction above a concrete base.  Plans call for the project’s roof level to be activated as an amenity deck, with additional open space planned in the form of a ground-floor courtyard and breezeway.

Although the Housing Diversity Corp. has done the bulk of its work in its hometown of Seattle, the company has recently expanded its efforts to Los Angeles due to the region’s pronounced housing shortage, as well as the proliferation of larger, luxury apartments buildings in other parts of Downtown, have created an opening for smaller, more affordably-priced developments.

According to the company’s founder and chief executive officer Brad Padden, the apartments at 1411 Flower Street are expected to cater to households earning between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income – a segment of the population which may be otherwise unable to afford the rents in other new buildings.

“People are willing to trade space for location,” said Padden, who described the company’s micro-unit apartments as being similar to a cabin on a cruise ship.  “They’re saying ‘I want to live downtown, and I want to live affordably.’”

Although rents for the as-yet unbuilt project have yet to be set, Padden hopes to offer price points between $1,500 and $1,600 per month. 

In comparison, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Los Angeles is currently $2,305, according to Steve Basham, an analyst with the real estate data firm CoStar.

Housing Diversity Corp. currently anticipates securing entitlements for the Downtown project by December of 2021.  Construction would begin immediately afterward, with project completion expected within 16 months, says Padden.

With financing provided CDFI and Century Housing, Housing Diversity Corp. acquired the 1411 Flower Street site for approximately $4.3 million in September 2020, according to City of Los Angeles records.

The project is the company’s third Los Angeles area development, following an apartment complex which broke ground in Summer 2020 near Hollywood and Highland, as well as another Downtown project on Grand Avenue which is slated to begin construction this year.