Housing Will Change Landscape on La Cienega

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Housing Will Change Landscape on La Cienega

Park Labrea News/ Beverly Press

By Edwin Folven, 11/11/2010

Residents and Local Officials Hope Project Will Improve the Area

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a large mixed-use housing project planned at 375 N. La Cienega Blvd., at the location of the former Acapulco Restaurant and some neighboring buildings.

A building that formerly housed the Acapulco Restaurant on La Cienega Blvd. will be converted into housing. (photo by Edwin Folven)

The five-level project, known as Luxe @ 375, will include 125 apartments and some ground-level retail space. The developer, NMS Properties, is still in the process of securing retail tenants and determining the rents for the market rate apartments. The project will also include 11 units designated for people who are considered very low income, or earning no more than 30 percent of the area’s median income, which would likely place rents for those units around $400 per month.

The project was supported by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District, who said NMS Properties worked with the community and his office to come up with a design that would not be problematic for the neighborhood. The area is zoned for large commercial projects, and the developer already has the entitlements to build at the site and could have constructed a large shopping center or other retail project. Koretz said he believes the new housing will bring a welcome change to an area that is currently not very pedestrian-friendly. He also added that having more people living in the neighborhood may reduce loitering that occurs around an adult strip club located near the development site.

They have minimized every impact, compared to what they could have done by right, Koretz said. I also think it will have a positive impact on the strip club, with people congregating near the property where the project will be built. I am also hoping to bring some walkability to the area, and this new building will help in that regard.

Penny Lane Emerson, a spokesperson for NMS Properties, said the developer hopes the project will reinvigorate the stretch of La Cienega just north of Beverly Boulevard by providing housing for residents who will spend money at local businesses.

It will definitely pump more money into the local economy, Emerson said. Once the building is there, it will be more gentrified. You always see that when there is a flood of people in the area.

Koretz said some of the other concerns that have been mitigated involve traffic congestion. According to a transit study conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the housing project is anticipated to bring just under 470 new car trips to the area daily. Koretz said that is dramatically less than the approximately 5,250 daily car trips through the area that would have occurred with a large retail development.

NMS Properties also agreed to other measures that will mitigate the project’s impact on neighbors, including roof setbacks at the rear of the property so it will be in proportion with other buildings and will not cast shadows on nearby homes. The units will also feature opaque materials around balconies, giving neighbors more privacy, and will have landscaping and other features to help it blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Jeff Jacob-berger, chair of the Mid City West Communi-ty Council, also said the project will be a benefit to the area.

When you look at this stretch of La Cienega, and you have that old Acapulco and a car wash and a strip club, it’s not a street that is particularly attractive to pedestrians, and when you think about the Beverly Center being right down the street, you think people should be walking, Jacobergger added. Projects like this would make streets like La Cienega a lot more attractive.

Emerson added that the former Acapulco building is currently occupied by the non-profit organization, Groundlings Relations and People, and a video distribution company and an interior design firm also have offices in some adjacent buildings that will be demolished to make way for the new project. The parking lot for the former Acapulco will also be used as a Christmas tree lot during the holidays, but the developer hopes to begin work on the project early next year, Emerson added.