After more than two years of quiet, the backers of the slow-moving project which would redevelop the City Market complex in Downtown's Fashion District are making headway.

Image courtesy of HansonLA

The project, announced more than one decade ago, would transform a former produce wholesale center bounded by 9th, 11th, San Pedro, and San Julian Streets into a mixed-use, high-rise complex with buildings ranging up to 38 stories in height. Plans approved in 2018 by the Los Angeles City Council would permit the construction of up to 948 residential units, a 210-room hotel, a 300,000-square-foot educational institution, and 225,000 square feet of commercial space.

Although City Market was granted the zone change and general plan amendment required to facilitate the construction of a mixed-use commercial development on what was previously an industrial site, the project was dealt a setback in June 2020, when Mayor Eric Garcetti vetoed a proposed development agreement which would have established a framework for the distribution of a roughly $10-million public benefits package.

In a letter to the Council, Garcetti cited revisions instituted by 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar which would redirect payments intended for citywide funds to the Council District 14 public benefit trust fund. Garcetti's letter, dated June 19, was sent the council just days before Huizar was arrested on federal racketeering charges relating to soliciting and accepting bribes from developers of several Downtown projects. The now former councilmember was stripped of his council committee assignments in 2018, following an FBI raid of his home and office that preceded his arrest.

Image courtesy of HansonLA

The revised development agreement, per a motion introduced by his successor, Kevin de Leon, would retain funding in the development agreement for initiatives in the 14th Council District, including $1.9 million for homeless health services, $1.9 million for street improvements, $1.9 million for public transportation, and a $1 million contribution to the Parks Department for Pershing Square. However, the plan now calls for omitting a $3.9 million payment into the Council District 14 affordable housing trust fund. Instead, the City Market project would set aside 10 percent of the total on-site housing for rent below market rate - including 47 low-income units (between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income level) and 47 moderate income units (between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income level). Originally, plans had called for all 94 units to serve households earning at or below 120 and 150 percent of the area median income level.

Targeting a more restrictive affordability level help the City of Los Angeles meet its targets under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, argues De Leon in a motion introduced earlier this year. The City is expected to plan for at least 260,000 units serving households earning less than 120 percent of the area median income level through 2029.

Whether or not the revised agreement is ultimately approved, a precise timeline for City Market remains elusive. At the time City Market was announced, it was expected that construction would occur in four phases over a period of 25 years, although some buildings have already been reactivated as retail, restaurant, and office space through the City Market South project.

Rendering of City Market. Image via LADCP.