It was nearly two years ago that the city of Los Angeles and developers McCormack, Baron, Salazar entered into an agreement to build three mixed use properties on public parking lots located between Avenues 56 and 59 behind North Figueroa Street.
In the years leading to the city council vote, the so-called Highland Park Transit Vilage was a hot topic in the neighborhood, with residents debating the relative merits of the project that promised an influx of affordable housing and new business revenue.
However, since the development deal was inked in January of 2011, the Highland Park Transit Village has fallen almost completely off the radar.
The controversial development will be under the spotlight again tonight (Thursday, Jan. 17) at 7 p.m. at the Highland Park Adult Senior Citizen Center as representatives from McCormack, Baron, Salazar (MBS) will be given a full hour of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council's agenda to discuss plans for the project.
According to the 2011 development agreement, MBS will be working within the confines of a significantly scaled back version of the plan they had initially pitched.
The original plans included 101 units of residential and retail property. As of 2011, the revised plan called for only 85 units, 59 of which would be rentals designated as affordable housing for individuals earning 60% or less than the average income of residents in the area.
The project’s first of two phases would focus on the 59 rental units, while the second phase would include the remaining 25 units, 10 of which would be designated as live/work condominium space, and 15 would be set aside as three-bedroom townhouses.
In addition, 225 new parking spaces would replace those that would be lost in the construction of the project. Originally, plans included significant underground parking, however, under the new plan, most of the parking not directly designated for residents is now classified as surface-street parking only.
The plan still has its detractors, though.
City Council candidate Jesse Rosas said that he feared construction of the transit village would hurt existing businesses along North Figueroa Street.
"If they do build it, they're going to really hurt the businesses, because it will take too long to build the replacement parking," Rosas said.
Teri Bonsell, a member of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, said she was originally opposed to the plan, but now supports it.
"At first, I wasn't pleased with the idea. I thought it was just another developer coming into the community. But, now I'm leaning more toward it. There's nothing happening on North Figueroa, it's kind of a dead zone. It's not like it used to be when it was the main drag in Highland Park," Bonsell said. "I really think if this development were to happen, it will benefit the community with affordable housing and hopefully some new storefronts."