Controversy swirls around Equity Residential’s proposed DTLA tower

Equity CEO Sam Zell and a rendering of the Beacon
Equity CEO Sam Zell and a rendering of the Beacon

Updated, Wednesday, July 10, 2:32 p.m.: Equity Residential has run into a snag.

More than a year ago, the Chicago-based firm drew up plans for a 33-story tower called the Beacon at the corner of Fourth and Hill Streets. But as it has been trying to obtain permits, it has faced fierce opposition from residents of a nearby building and local developers. 

The development would include 428 units, 22 of which would be reserved for “very low-income” housing, the L.A. Downtown News reported.

The opposition group includes the likes of architect and developer David Gray, who recently redeveloped 353 South Broadway, a six-story building immediately east of Equity’s proposed development; Cedd Moses, whose company 213 Hospitality owns a dozen bars and restaurants Downtown and is reportedly planning a bar in Gray’s development; and Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City, a pioneer housing developer in the Arts District.

Arguing that the Beacon would eclipse nearby buildings and that its glass design would be out of place architecturally, the opponents also take issue with the project’s nine-story, above-ground parking lot, which wraps around the building.

The developer said it has been working closely with City Planning and other city agencies to ensure that the Beacon meets all building and design standards.

The real estate firm also had the support of the previous representatives of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, or DLANC, which discussed the project before its positions turned over in last month’s election. One of the organization’s current representatives, Josh Albrektson, began circulating a petition on the website, calling on 14th District City Councilmember José Huizar and Mayor Eric Garcetti to approve the plans.

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“At a time when Los Angeles has a MAJOR housing shortage, buildings that provide housing at all income levels are exactly what we need,” the petition reads, citing the developments’ call for 22 affordable units, which could qualify it for a density bonus, as a major benefit. “A smaller project, as opponents of the Beacon tower propose, would mean fewer market-rate and affordable units.”

The petition argues that the opposition is coming mainly from Gray and investors and residents of his building — whose city views would be affected if the tower were to rise.

“No building should ever be stopped, or even delayed, simply because the view from someone’s window, rooftop garden, or pool will change,” the petition reads.

A local anti-development group, Society for the Preservation of DTLA, is also opposing the structure.

Equity owns about 85,000 apartments nationwide. The company recently lowered its 2016 revenue forecast, announcing in June that its revenue growth on properties this year will likely not exceed 4.5 percent. [LADTN] — Cathaleen Chen

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that DLANC discussed the project before its positions turned over in June.