In August 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to partner with the Compton Unified School District to solicit proposals for the shuttered Lincoln Drew Elementary School campus in Willowbrook.  Two years later, a homegrown medical school and two prolific housing developers are poised to bring hundreds of apartments to the more than 12-acre property.

Earlier today, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to initiate an exclusive negotiating agreement with Thomas Safran & Associates, Century Housing Corporation, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science for the redevelopment of Lincoln Elementary, as well as a neighboring property at 1655 E. 117th Street.  The three entities have teamed to propose the construction of a mixed-use complex consisting of:

  • 252 affordable housing units;
  • 70 workforce and market-rate homes;
  • 263 student dormitories; and
  • approximately 110,000 square feet of commercial space.

According to a staff report, the project's commercial space would be subdivided for use by Charles Drew University and other local non-profits and medical institutions.  The Drew Child Development Corporation and MLK Community Hospital are both poised to occupy up to 30,000 square feet of space each.

In addition to housing and commercial uses, the proposed development would include athletic fields and open spaces, which would be made available for use by the surrounding community.  The LA84 Foundation is slated to provide programming and management for the athletic facilities.

The vote by the Board of Supervisors authorizes the Los Angeles County Development Authority to negotiate a 12-month agreement with the development team, with an optional extension of up to 180 days.  The developers are required to conduct monthly community meetings to solicit feedback for the project's design, as well as on issues such as housing, retail, and transportation needs for the Willowbrook community.

The proposed project, if built, would be the largest in a recent series of mixed-use affordable housing developments in the unincorporated Willowbrook community, the bulk of which are concentrated near Metro's Willowbrook/Rosa Parks transit hub.

Thomas Safran & Associates, which is a prolific developer of mixed-income and affordable housing across Los Angeles County, is not a stranger to Willowbrook.  The company completed a $44-million senior apartment complex on Wilmington Avenue in 2019.

Century Housing, which has two offices in Los Angeles County, is also leading large-scale redevelopment efforts at public housing complexes in San Pedro, Long Beach, and at the West Los Angeles VA Campus.

Charles Drew University, which was founded in the 1960s, occupies a campus located directly across the street from the Lincoln Elementary property.