Quantcast

The Real Deal Los Angeles

Controversy swirls around Equity Residential’s proposed DTLA tower

Opponents say the 33-story Beacon tower would be too tall; proponents say opponents are trying to protect their own city views

July 19, 2016 02:15PM

  • Print
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 change.org, calling on 14th District City Councilmember José Huizar and Mayor Eric Garcetti to approve the plans.

“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. 

  • Josh Sarvinski

    It’s great to activate this part of Hill St. by becoming denser and more walkable. However, a nine-story parking podium enables people to drive, therefore defeating the purpose of becoming a walkable neighborhood, especially when the red line lives directly below. I am assuming below grade parking is not possible due to the metro station but that much parking should not be needed in this area anyway. I think this tower should go back to the drawing board.

    • Jeff

      You clearly do not understand LA real estate. The market drives parking. Los Angeles isn’t NYC or SF, the primary mode for most people in SoCal will always be the automobile. Also, these are luxury units, nobody making 6 figures in LA is abandoning the car anytime soon.

      • 1976boy

        That is total nonsense. DTLA only became viable again after decades of abandonment because LA built a rail transit system. The adaptive reuse loft apartments that kicked off the residential boom all had NO parking, and they are what caused this market to take off.

        Right now, because new construction is required by law to provide an enormous number of parking spaces, regardless of need or proximity to transit, this building MUST, by law, build far more parking than would ever be used. These rules are the same in far west side neighborhoods as they are downtown, and that is the big problem: a one-size fits all approach that cannot fathom that people who actually choose to live in a high rise without a car might even exist.

        The visionary and courageous developer is one who would buck this stupid system and fight to build such a building with a ratio of maybe one space to every three or four units, or even, god forbid, none at all. But to do so would be prohibitively expensive, as it would require variances that are almost impossible to get. The current rules require more parking to be built, at something like $50,000 per space.

        Seriously, if someone really needs a car that badly there are 500,000 parking spaces in downtown LA. Not every building needs to have 9 stories of garage.

      • 1976boy

        That is total nonsense. DTLA only became viable again after decades of abandonment because LA built a rail transit system. The adaptive reuse loft apartments that kicked off the residential boom all had NO parking, and they are what caused this market to take off.

        Right now, because new construction is required by law to provide an enormous number of parking spaces, regardless of need or proximity to transit, this building MUST, by law, build far more parking than would ever be used. These rules are the same in far west side neighborhoods as they are downtown, and that is the big problem: a one-size fits all approach that cannot fathom that people who actually choose to live in a high rise without a car might even exist.

        The visionary and courageous developer is one who would buck this stupid system and fight to build such a building with a ratio of maybe one space to every three or four units, or even, god forbid, none at all. But to do so would be prohibitively expensive, as it would require variances that are almost impossible to get. The current rules require more parking to be built, at something like $50,000 per space.

        Seriously, if someone really needs a car that badly there are 500,000 parking spaces in downtown LA. Not every building needs to have 9 stories of garage.

      • 1976boy

        That is total nonsense. DTLA only became viable again after decades of abandonment because LA built a rail transit system. The adaptive reuse loft apartments that kicked off the residential boom all had NO parking, and they are what caused this market to take off.

        Right now, because new construction is required by law to provide an enormous number of parking spaces, regardless of need or proximity to transit, this building MUST, by law, build far more parking than would ever be used. These rules are the same in far west side neighborhoods as they are downtown, and that is the big problem: a one-size fits all approach that cannot fathom that people who actually choose to live in a high rise without a car might even exist.

        The visionary and courageous developer is one who would buck this stupid system and fight to build such a building with a ratio of maybe one space to every three or four units, or even, god forbid, none at all. But to do so would be prohibitively expensive, as it would require variances that are almost impossible to get. The current rules require more parking to be built, at something like $50,000 per space.

        Seriously, if someone really needs a car that badly there are 500,000 parking spaces in downtown LA. Not every building needs to have 9 stories of garage.

    • Jeff

      You clearly do not understand LA real estate. The market drives parking. Los Angeles isn’t NYC or SF, the primary mode for most people in SoCal will always be the automobile. Also, these are luxury units, nobody making 6 figures in LA is abandoning the car anytime soon.

    • Jeff

      You clearly do not understand LA real estate. The market drives parking. Los Angeles isn’t NYC or SF, the primary mode for most people in SoCal will always be the automobile. Also, these are luxury units, nobody making 6 figures in LA is abandoning the car anytime soon.

  • Josh Sarvinski

    It’s great to activate this part of Hill St. by becoming denser and more walkable. However, a nine-story parking podium enables people to drive, therefore defeating the purpose of becoming a walkable neighborhood, especially when the red line lives directly below. I am assuming below grade parking is not possible due to the metro station but that much parking should not be needed in this area anyway. I think this tower should go back to the drawing board.

  • Josh Sarvinski

    It’s great to activate this part of Hill St. by becoming denser and more walkable. However, a nine-story parking podium enables people to drive, therefore defeating the purpose of becoming a walkable neighborhood, especially when the red line lives directly below. I am assuming below grade parking is not possible due to the metro station but that much parking should not be needed in this area anyway. I think this tower should go back to the drawing board.

  • A big portion of the view to the southeast from the top of Angel’s Flight as well as the Watercourt entertainment facility would be blocked by this project. The midrise housing block proposed for the southeast corner of Fourth and Broadway would also block views from the top of Bunker Hill. Installing piles and tiebacks for underground parking is not possible due to subway infrastructure.

  • A big portion of the view to the southeast from the top of Angel’s Flight as well as the Watercourt entertainment facility would be blocked by this project. The midrise housing block proposed for the southeast corner of Fourth and Broadway would also block views from the top of Bunker Hill. Installing piles and tiebacks for underground parking is not possible due to subway infrastructure.

  • A big portion of the view to the southeast from the top of Angel’s Flight as well as the Watercourt entertainment facility would be blocked by this project. The midrise housing block proposed for the southeast corner of Fourth and Broadway would also block views from the top of Bunker Hill. Installing piles and tiebacks for underground parking is not possible due to subway infrastructure.

  • Concerned Citizen of LA

    Yeah….right….5% of total units to be affordable is a great “diverse” mix of housing Josh Albrektson…How can you even say that with a straight face?

    Get your money grubbing hands out of the “neighborhood council” system if you straight up don’t know what your talking about. The developer is purposely gaming the state law language of ‘base’ density units in order to qualify for the Density Bonus concessions.

    A standard DB project requires 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low Income units, or, at the developer’s option, 25% of units allocated for Low Income. In exchange, the developer is granted a number of potential concessions including bonus height limits, reduced parking standards, and oh yah, a 35% increase in units allowable under the zoning.

    That’s right, typically the Density Bonus law requires AT MINIMUM 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low income in exchange for a 35% increase in the density of the project. This project proposes 5% of units to be set aside (22 out of 428)

    When you have a site near transit that can support 400+ residential units and you are calling on all of the great benefits of building more affordable housing as a plea for why the structure should be built, at least demand that the structure actually include a meaningful number of ‘DIVERSE’ units.

    22 units in the grander scheme of LA’s housing needs is nothing and the longer people in power continue to think that a small percentage of affordable units is better than none at all, the longer LA’s housing shortage will continue. If the city pushed back and requested more affordable units, or a mix of various affordable units, the developer would retool the project and increase this threshold. If not, the current developer would sell the site and a new one will step in and build the project. These economics might not work in less supply constrained areas, but in downtown LA land is scarce and the city/neighborhood groups continue to be scared to demand what they all agree LA really needs.

    • GlobalLA

      You think affordable housing is FREE? You think there isn’t a cost to subsidize affordability? We can definitely build more density as to provide the economies of scale necessary to provide affordable homes. But that won’t happen because of zoning and NIMBYs who bitch and complain about every tall large project. Those are the two largest things to blame if you’re so pissed-off about the high-cost of homes in Los Angeles.

    • GlobalLA

      You think affordable housing is FREE? You think there isn’t a cost to subsidize affordability? We can definitely build more density as to provide the economies of scale necessary to provide affordable homes. But that won’t happen because of zoning and NIMBYs who bitch and complain about every tall large project. Those are the two largest things to blame if you’re so pissed-off about the high-cost of homes in Los Angeles.

    • GlobalLA

      You think affordable housing is FREE? You think there isn’t a cost to subsidize affordability? We can definitely build more density as to provide the economies of scale necessary to provide affordable homes. But that won’t happen because of zoning and NIMBYs who bitch and complain about every tall large project. Those are the two largest things to blame if you’re so pissed-off about the high-cost of homes in Los Angeles.

  • Concerned Citizen of LA

    Yeah….right….5% of total units to be affordable is a great “diverse” mix of housing Josh Albrektson…How can you even say that with a straight face?

    Get your money grubbing hands out of the “neighborhood council” system if you straight up don’t know what your talking about. The developer is purposely gaming the state law language of ‘base’ density units in order to qualify for the Density Bonus concessions.

    A standard DB project requires 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low Income units, or, at the developer’s option, 25% of units allocated for Low Income. In exchange, the developer is granted a number of potential concessions including bonus height limits, reduced parking standards, and oh yah, a 35% increase in units allowable under the zoning.

    That’s right, typically the Density Bonus law requires AT MINIMUM 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low income in exchange for a 35% increase in the density of the project. This project proposes 5% of units to be set aside (22 out of 428)

    When you have a site near transit that can support 400+ residential units and you are calling on all of the great benefits of building more affordable housing as a plea for why the structure should be built, at least demand that the structure actually include a meaningful number of ‘DIVERSE’ units.

    22 units in the grander scheme of LA’s housing needs is nothing and the longer people in power continue to think that a small percentage of affordable units is better than none at all, the longer LA’s housing shortage will continue. If the city pushed back and requested more affordable units, or a mix of various affordable units, the developer would retool the project and increase this threshold. If not, the current developer would sell the site and a new one will step in and build the project. These economics might not work in less supply constrained areas, but in downtown LA land is scarce and the city/neighborhood groups continue to be scared to demand what they all agree LA really needs.

  • Concerned Citizen of LA

    Yeah….right….5% of total units to be affordable is a great “diverse” mix of housing Josh Albrektson…How can you even say that with a straight face?

    Get your money grubbing hands out of the “neighborhood council” system if you straight up don’t know what your talking about. The developer is purposely gaming the state law language of ‘base’ density units in order to qualify for the Density Bonus concessions.

    A standard DB project requires 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low Income units, or, at the developer’s option, 25% of units allocated for Low Income. In exchange, the developer is granted a number of potential concessions including bonus height limits, reduced parking standards, and oh yah, a 35% increase in units allowable under the zoning.

    That’s right, typically the Density Bonus law requires AT MINIMUM 11% of units to be set aside for Very Low income in exchange for a 35% increase in the density of the project. This project proposes 5% of units to be set aside (22 out of 428)

    When you have a site near transit that can support 400+ residential units and you are calling on all of the great benefits of building more affordable housing as a plea for why the structure should be built, at least demand that the structure actually include a meaningful number of ‘DIVERSE’ units.

    22 units in the grander scheme of LA’s housing needs is nothing and the longer people in power continue to think that a small percentage of affordable units is better than none at all, the longer LA’s housing shortage will continue. If the city pushed back and requested more affordable units, or a mix of various affordable units, the developer would retool the project and increase this threshold. If not, the current developer would sell the site and a new one will step in and build the project. These economics might not work in less supply constrained areas, but in downtown LA land is scarce and the city/neighborhood groups continue to be scared to demand what they all agree LA really needs.

  • GlobalLA

    REDUCE parking minimum requirements as to get rid of that huge podium parking space. Make the building taller while incorporating more green space at street level.

    All these huge parking podiums (as necessitated by arcane minimum parking requirements) cropping up all over downtown Los Angeles are ruining the necessary designs we need at street-level that can better incorporate open space for pedestrians. Downtown is developing with more transit in mind and action to stop these parking podiums, which takes up almost the entire lot site, needs to be addressed.

    The L.A. city council needs to support taller buildings in downtown but needs to provide more leadership in changing our minimum parking requirements.

  • GlobalLA

    REDUCE parking minimum requirements as to get rid of that huge podium parking space. Make the building taller while incorporating more green space at street level.

    All these huge parking podiums (as necessitated by arcane minimum parking requirements) cropping up all over downtown Los Angeles are ruining the necessary designs we need at street-level that can better incorporate open space for pedestrians. Downtown is developing with more transit in mind and action to stop these parking podiums, which takes up almost the entire lot site, needs to be addressed.

    The L.A. city council needs to support taller buildings in downtown but needs to provide more leadership in changing our minimum parking requirements.

  • GlobalLA

    REDUCE parking minimum requirements as to get rid of that huge podium parking space. Make the building taller while incorporating more green space at street level.

    All these huge parking podiums (as necessitated by arcane minimum parking requirements) cropping up all over downtown Los Angeles are ruining the necessary designs we need at street-level that can better incorporate open space for pedestrians. Downtown is developing with more transit in mind and action to stop these parking podiums, which takes up almost the entire lot site, needs to be addressed.

    The L.A. city council needs to support taller buildings in downtown but needs to provide more leadership in changing our minimum parking requirements.

MENU