Five-year-old plans to build housing and commercial space on a prominent corner site in Highland Park will face a key test this week, when the Los Angeles City Planning Commission is set to take up an appeal seeking to block construction of the project.

In 2018, property owner and architect Michael Naim filed an application with the Planning Department seeking entitlements for an amorphous property located at the intersection of North Figueroa Street and Pasadena Avenue. The project, given the address 3836 N. Figueroa Street, calls for the construction of a seven-story building featuring 100 studio, one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-bedroom dwellings above 14,734 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and semi-subterranean parking for 114 vehicles.

Water feature in pavilion at Belvedere at 3832-3836 N. Figueroa St.SQLA

Entitlements approved in September 2022 grant Transit Oriented Communities incentives permitting greater height, density, and floor area than allowed by zoning rules. In exchange, Naim would be required to set aside 10 of the new apartments as extremely low-income affordable housing.

Naim's design for the complex - previously called Nela Plaza but now known as Belvedere - depicts a building with a white stucco exterior and Mediterranean style architecture. The housing would be accompanied by a roughly 4,767-square-foot public plaza at the intersection of Pasadena and North Figueroa, as well as a podium-top courtyard and pool deck, and multiple roof terraces.

Construction is expected to occur over a roughly two-year period, although a precise timeline for the project has not been announced.

Site plan for Belvedere at 3832-3836 N. Figueroa St.Naim & Associates

The Commission is slated consider two appeals of project entitlements, submitted by Saul Ramirez, a neighboring resident, and Derek Ryder who is identified as a member of the Arroyo Seco Alliance. Both appellants argue that the project is inconsistent with local zoning regulations and planning goals, and should be subject to further environmental review. A staff dismisses the claims made by the appellants.

Besides the administrative hurdles faced by the project, the Belvedere development has also faced pushback from residents of the surrounding neighborhood, who argue that the construction of housing on the North Figueroa site will accelerate gentrification. Likewise, charges of racism have been leveled at the project's developer.

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