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Boyle Heights development planned along Gold Line clears a hurdle

March 28, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday approved exclusive negotiation rights for a mixed-use commercial and affordable-housing complex next to the Metro Gold Line tracks in Boyle Heights.

The Metro board voted 10-1 to negotiate with developer A Community of Friends on the $23.1-million project, which would be built on agency land at 1st and Lorena streets.

Metro is working to double the number of mixed-use projects it owns in Los Angeles County. The developments follow Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s “elegant density” theory: accommodating expected population growth by clustering mixed-use projects around bus and rail stations.

Metro owns 16 developments near transit stations, including the Wrigley Marketplace shopping center in Long Beach and Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. Three projects are under construction, and 12 others are in negotiation, including the complex proposed for 1st and Lorena, the agency said.

The plans for 1st and Lorena call for 53 affordable-housing units and 5,000 square feet of retail space. Half the apartments would be reserved for the formerly homeless and mentally ill.

Opponents of the development, including business owners at neighboring El Mercado de Los Angeles, told board members that the mentally ill would not make good neighbors. Speakers said they worried about children coming into contact with residents of the new development.

Board members and Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina vouched for the developer’s work in their districts.

Board member Jose Huizar, whose Los Angeles City Council district includes the proposed development, was the only one to vote against the project. He said the plans had changed too much since the project was originally proposed in 2006. At that time, plans included fewer apartments and more than five times as much retail space. The developer said a power substation on the lot made it difficult to include that much retail space.

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Twitter: @laura_nelson

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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