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NoHo Commons Developers Offer Scaled-Back Plan

Revitalization: The new proposal would cut the number of homes but increase the size of units. Some retail space also would be reduced.

May 14, 2002|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The building of fewer, larger housing units and other changes have been proposed for NoHo Commons, the ambitious mixed-use project to be built on 16.7 acres in North Hollywood, next to the subway station.

The commissioners of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency are expected to approve changes in the plan at their meeting Thursday, said the agency's Lillian Burkenheim, director of the project to revitalize the core of North Hollywood.

The revised plan calls for building 450 units in Phase I of the three-phase, $192-million project, about 20% fewer than originally proposed.

Planners believe that fewer, larger units will be more attractive to prospective residents and make the units more competitive in today's housing market, Burkenheim said.

In the new plan, the cluster of buildings will be designed so that residents can park close to where they live, instead of having all parking concentrated in one place, she said.

Decentralized parking has proved popular in other mixed-use projects such as those in Santa Monica, she said.

In Phase II, retail development will be trimmed from 127,000 square feet to 71,600 square feet, while the number of loft and live-work units will be increased to 278 from 247.

Less retail footage makes room for more housing and requires less space for parking, Burkenheim said. This is important if the complex is going to be perceived as an active place to live, work and shop.

No changes are planned in Phase III, which calls for 200,000 square feet of office space, as well as retail space, and 20,000 square feet for community service.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the NoHo Commons project in December. The redevelopment agency has committed $31.7 million in loans and subsidies to it.

The project, which will be privately developed, would create an estimated 1,600 jobs, and housing for people of all income levels.

The plan would include housing and studios for artists and nearly $2 million in public art.

On Thursday, the commissioners also will be asked to recognize that some current residents of the area will suffer extreme hardship without relocation assistance.

Federal law limits relocation benefits to citizens or legal residents, except when relocation would cause exceptional and extreme hardship.

Then, Burkenheim said, families could receive financial help, administered by the redevelopment agency, to ease that hardship, regardless of their immigration status.

"This isn't a decision they're making to move," she said of those who would be displaced by the project.

"This is a decision that the city's making, and I want to make sure that everybody's being treated as fairly and equally [as possible]," she said.

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