A recent decision from a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has dealt a blow to plans to redevelop portions of the historic Southern California Flower Market with multifamily housing, office space, and retail.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sued the City of Los Angeles in 2019 in a bid to halt the project, has been granted a preemptory writ of mandate which order the City to aside entitlements for the project - including a general plan amendment and a zone change - and decertifies its environmental impact report.
"“This is a welcome victory in the ongoing battle to ensure the City Council adheres to environmental standards and that it protects and actually represents the most vulnerable residents of Los Angeles,” said AHF president Michael Weinstein in a news release. “60,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles and projects like this make the problem worse."
The previously approved project, designed by architecture firm Brooks + Scarpa, calls for the construction of:
- 323 residential units - including 32 to be priced for moderate-income households;
- 64,363 square feet of office space;
- 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space;
- 4,385 square feet of retail space;
- 13,420 square feet of food and beverage space;
- 21,295 square feet of event space; and
- 681 parking spaces located in above- and below-grade levels.
In his decision, Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff concurred with AHF's arguments that the project's environmental study failed to adequately account for potential impacts to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as noise impacts to residents of surrounding buildings during the construction process.
The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that the Southern California Flower Growers hope to amend the project and secure new approvals in the coming months. Construction of the proposed development is not expected to begin for eight years, according to the Business Journal.
The Southern California Flower Market, founded by a group of Japanese-American flower growers, has been located on a four-acre site at 7th and Wall Streets since the early 20th century. Since 2016, the families which own and operate the facility have sought to redevelop the property as part of a mixed-use, high-rise development which would preserve the existing wholesale market, allowing the facility remain within Downtown rather than relocating outside of the City of Los Angeles.
The project site sits east across Maple Avenue from a parking lot where a second high-rise development is planned, and south across 7th Street from two permanent supportive housing projects built by Skid Row Housing Trust.
AHF, which backed an unsuccessful ballot measure to curtail large projects requiring discretionary entitlements in 2017, has since ventured into statewide campaigns to expand rent control and tenant protections, and has purchased properties with the intent of preserving and developing supportive housing. However, the non-profit's expansion into the housing sector has not come without stumbles. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that AHF had been labeled a "slumlord" by some of its tenants, who sued the organization over poor living conditions within its buildings.
- Southern California Flower Market (Urbanize LA)