Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

GWNC Land Use Committee Reviews Updates to Plans for 500 N. Larchmont Development

Original (left) and revised (right) renderings for a new apartment building proposed for 500 N. Larchmont Blvd.

At its January meeting, the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council reviewed plans for a proposed apartment building at 500 N. Larchmont Blvd. (the NE corner of the Larchmont/Rosewood intersection).  The project would be five stories tall with 21 units (seven one-bedrooms and 14 two-bedrooms), two of which would be reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) guidelines.  At that meeting, both neighbors and committee members expressed concerns with the building’s size, compatability with the neighborhood’s architectural and community context, and its potential effects on the lower-density homes just behind the development on Gower Street, and asked the developers to reconsider many of the design elements.

This month, the developers returned with a number of updates.


Developer Presentation


New design for the apartment building planned for 500 N. Larchmont Blvd.


According to developer representative Matthew Hayden, the project will still contain five stories and 21 apartments, with two units reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants, along with 21 vehicle parking spaces and 24 bicycle parking spaces.

Hayden also explained that the project qualifies for a number of Tier 1 construction incentives under the city’s TOC guidelines, based on its proximity to the interection of two bus routes at Melrose and Gower.


Map showing the intersection of two bus routes at Melrose and Gower, which qualifies properties within the circled radius for Tier 1 incentives under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities guidelines.


According to the TOC Tier 1 guidelines, and based on the 8% of units reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants, the project qualifies for three base-level construction incentives from the city (a density bonus, a bonus in Floor Area Ratio, and a reduced parking requirement), and two additional incentives (a 20% reduction in open space, and a reduction in setbacks).

In addition to the original presentation, Hayden reported that the developers have also discussed the project with the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, and have incorporated suggestions from both sessions into a new design update.

Next, project architect Aaron Brumer presented the new design, which includes a new, more muted and natural color scheme, changes in balcony design, window design, and construction materials, and a new horizontal banding pattern that helps to break up the building’s mass.

Brumer said that, in response to neighbors’ requests to make the building more responsive to other architctural cues from the neighborhood, he looked at several local buildings, including multifamily developments at 5641 and 5700 Melrose Ave., an office building at 530 N. Larchmont, and a single-family building at 421 N. Larchmont.






Also in response to neighbors’ requests, Brumer said he has moved the building’s main pedestrian entrance from Rosewood Ave. to the Larchmont Blvd. side of the building, though the garage entrance remains on Rosewood.


Larchmont Blvd. view


Rosewood Ave. view




In public comments on the revised project, neighborhood resident Chris Shanley, an architect, said he appreciates the changes made so far, but suggested the building’s main driveway also be moved to Larchmont, and noted that the developers probably won’t be able to include as much landscaping as they’ve shown on the Rosewood side, since LADWP does not allow planting near electrical vaults.

Other neighbors agreed with Shanley and expressed further concerns with the building’s rear-facing deck, balconies, and parking lot, which have no acoustical barriers to shield adjacent homes on Gower from potential noise.

By far, however, both neighbors’ and committee members’ biggest criticism was the building’s 5-story height, which they pointed out is larger than all neighboring buildings, even those called out as architectural influences, which are only 3-4 stories tall.

Aside from making the building shorter, to better fit in with neighboring structures, neighbors suggested removing the balconies from the rear of the building, adding more landscaping around the parking lot, and moving parking underground, to both mitigate noise issues and free up space on the first level of the building for more pedestrian-friendly uses.

The lone neighborhood voice in favor of the project was Tommy Atlee, who said he grew up in the area and recently returned after graduating from college.  Atlee said that as a young person, he can’t afford most other housing in the neighborhood, so he would welcome a building where he could afford to rent an apartment…and hopes that other neighbors will think about their children and other young adults who might be in the same situation.

In general, however, there were many more speakers who agreed with area resident Sam Uretsky, who called the project as currently presented “an atrocity for Larchmont,” and Land Use Committee member Susan O’Connell, who cautioned that if this project is built as proposed, it will set a dangerous precedent, and be followed by many others of similar size and incompatible design, which would forever change the character of Larchmont.

In the end, because both the LUC and the full GWNC board are already on record opposing the project, and because Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association presiden Charles D’Atri asked that no further actions be taken until the LVNA also has a chance to review and discuss the latest revisions, no new votes were taken at this meeting.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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