At its meeting on July 13, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to reject a bevy of appeals seeking to block the construction of a new mixed-use apartment complex at the intersection of 6th Street and Union Avenue in Westlake.
In late 2022, Beverly Hills-based real estate investor Elias Shokrian received entitlements for a new project which calls for razing a surface parking lot, a dollar store, and a swap-meet style mall at 550 S. Union Avenue to clear the way for a new housing complex. The proposed development, named The Legacy at Sixth-Union, would consist of a seven-story building featuring 100 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments above roughly 17,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and parking for 72 vehicles.
Project approvals rely on Transit Oriented Communities incentives to allow for a larger structure than otherwise permitted under zoning rules. In exchange, 10 of the proposed apartments would be set aside as deed-restricted affordable housing at the extremely low-income level.
Hawthorne-base architecture firm Icon & Ikon is designing The Legacy, which is depicted in renderings as a contemporary podium-type building clad in painted stucco and corrugated metal panels, with red geometric protrusions on the exterior. The building would include amenity decks at the podium and roof levels, as well as a gym.
The Planning Commission considered five different appeals seeking to block or delay construction of the project, including tenants and managers of the existing mall, and neighbors of an abutting property. The Supporters Alliance for Environmental Responsibility, an affiliate of Laborers International Union of North America Local 270, and the Coalition for an Equitable Westlake MacArthur Park, also challenged the project, but were incapable of appealing TOC incentives as they are not abutting residents or property owners.
All appeals argued that the project is incompatible with current zoning rules, and should have been subjected to a full environmental impact report, rather than being granted a categorical exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act. Likewise, some of the appellants contend that construction of The Legacy will displace existing commercial tenants, who would not be able to find comparable retail spaces nearby to continue their businesses.
A staff response rejected the arguments that the project violated zoning and environmental rules, and noted that concerns of the existing tenants could not justify rejection of the entitlements. However, the tenants were able to secure some additional projections in a deal brokered by the office of 1st District Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, including an agreement that the vendors may remain on site for at least four months following May 2023 with free rent, and will then continue renting on a month-to-month basis. The vendors are to be given at least 30 days notice before they are evicted from the space.
The new development is planned for a stretch of 6th Street which is lined on both sides by small commercial buildings housing independent shops and restaurants. Recent years have seen several large developments built along the corridor, such as the Paseo at Californian affordable housing complex at 6th and Bonnie Brae Street and the Be DTLA apartments at Bixel Street. Another mixed-use building is now under construction a few blocks west of The Legacy site at 6th Street and Westlake Avenue.
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- 100 apartments + retail proposed in Westlake (Urbanize LA)