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GWNC Land Use Committee Recommends Conditional Support for Apartment Project; Opposition to Zone Variance for Single-Family Home

GWNC Land Use Committee members at last night’s meeting of the committee.


At its monthly meeting last night, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee considered two different housing-related projects, and recommended that the GWNC board support one of them (if a specific condition is met), and oppose the other.


3355-3377 W. Olympic Blvd. (NW Corner of Olympic and S. Gramercy Pl., Case #s DIR-2022-2825-TOC-WDI-HCA, and ENV-2022-2826-EAF)


New rendering of the project planned for 3355-3377 W. Olympic Blvd., which includes color adjustments to make the building seem less uniform and institutional.


This project would replace an existing auto body shop, nursery, non-operating restaurant, and adjacent parking lot with a new 7-story, 153-unit mixed-use commercial and apartment building, developed under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities guidelines, with 16 units reserved for low-income tenants.

This is the second version of a project located at this address to come before the committee in the last five years.  The first was a senior housing project, proposed in 2017.

This particular iteration of the project was first presented to the Land Use Committee in June of this year, and the committee voted at that time voted to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the project unless/until design changes were made to soften the building’s appearance, and until more neighborhood outreach was done.

The developers returned last night to introduce changes in the colors of the building’s facade, and to report that they held a meeting to introduce the project to neighbors earlier this month.  Committee members reacted favorably to both of these developments, but the conversation hit a new stumbling block when project representative Heagi Kang mentioned that the developer, Ardmore Partners, now plans to convert the project to condominiums during the construction phase.

Committee members noted that TOC projects provide a number of incentives to developers, including simple administrative approvals for the project, in exchange for guaranteeing they will reserve a specific number of units for low income tenants for a period of 55 years.  If a condo conversion happens, however, committee members said the developers would receive all the benefits of the TOC program during the permitting phase, but it would be more difficult, with individual ownership of condominiums, to guarantee that the project would continue to align with the intent of the TOC program and provide affordable housing for 55 years.  (And even if there were guarantees that initially affordable condominium units would only be sold at a highly discounted rate for 55 years, there would likely be nothing preventing the condo owners from subletting their discounted units at market rates, which would still defeat the purpose of the TOC designation.)

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board support the project, but only on the condition that confirmation can be obtained from the city that the affordable units, whether offered for rent or sale, would be guaranteed to remain at the same level of affordability for 55 years.


652 S. Orange Dr. (Case # AZ-2022-4485-ZV-HCA)


Rendering of the single family home originally planned for 652 S. Orange Dr., which has remained unfinished since 2018.


The owner of this property, Michael Y. Mark, made a presentation at last night’s meeting recounting how his family began construction on a new single family home at this address in 2017.  The project, Mark said, was permitted under existing codes at the time, which allowed a maximum height of 28 feet.  Mark said, however, that he ran into problems with the contractors during construction, and was forced to stop building in 2018 after much of the building was framed…and then the COVID-19 pandemic caused further delays in 2020 and 2021.  Mark said he is now ready to resume construction, and finish the house, but zoning for the site changed in 2018, and now allows a transitional height of only 20′ at the front and rear of the buildling…so the current structure is 8 feet higher than currently allowed.  Mark said he is seeking a variance to allow the additional height in the partially completed building, so he can pick up at the current point and finish the home.  If he does not receive the variance, Mark said, he would likely have to tear down what has already been built and start over from scratch, which would mean an even longer construction period.

While committee members seemed sympathetic to Mark’s presentation at first, several neighbors who live on the block, or just behind the Marks’ property on Mansfield Ave., reported that the current owners have not cared for the property, which has become derelict during the four years it has been sitting unfinished.  One neighbor reported seeing a window fall out of the structure, several complained about it being accessible to transients, and all noted that the wood used in the unfinished building has now rotted and become unstable, so would likely have to be torn down anyway before construction could continue.  When committee members asked Mark about the current condition of the structure, he agreed that much of what is there now will have to be removed and replaced before the building could be finished, and said that if he doesn’t get the requested variance, he would likely just sell the property rather than starting over with new plans.


Neighbor’s photo of the unfinished structure at 652 S. Orange Dr., presented at last night’s meeting.


At that point, committee member Daniela Prowzer Lacayo made a motion that the committee recommend that the GWNC board oppose the variance application, due to the applicant’s failure to complete initial construction in a timely manner with the original permits, failure to maintain or adequately secure the property during construction delays, and the current unusable condition of the structure.  The motion passed unanimously.


The next meeting of the GWNC Land Use Committee will be held on Tuesday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m., via Zoom.  The next meeting of the GWNC Board, at which board members will vote on last night’s LUC recommendations, will be held on Wednesday, October 12, also at 6:30 p.m., and also via Zoom.


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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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