Affordable Transit-Oriented Development Underway at Beverly/Vermont

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For many years, one of the big discussions around subway expansion has involved the pros and cons of “transit-oriented development” (TOD) – large, usually mixed-use (residential/retail) developments that spring up near subway stops.

On the pro side, developers, city officials and transit proponents say such developments are necessary and should definitely accompany transit expansion, to provide ridership and appropriately increase transit-using population density along those corridors.

Opponents often feel, however, that TODs are generally too out-of-scale with their adjoining lower-density neighborhoods, and that they are also usually too upscale to adequately serve public transit riders, who tend to have more modest incomes than residents of single-family neighborhoods. (See, in particular, the Essex Wilshire/La Brea, where 414 square-foot studio apartments rent for just over $1,990 per month, and go up to more than $4,200 for a 1,000 square-foot two-bedroom unit.  In contrast, rents for 2,000 square-foot, 2 and 3-bedroom units in the adjacent, lower-density Sycamore Square neighborhood are around $3,000 these days.)  This has, in fact, been one major argument of people who have opposed subway stops in their low-density neighborhoods – the belief that where the subway goes, so does large-scale, unaffordable (and unwanted) transit-oriented development.

While most of our local subway stops have seen explosions in TODs in recent years, however, one such stop along Metro’s Red Line – at Beverly and Vermont – has steadfastly remained TOD-free.  And because of that, it has been an interesting study in contrast.  Until now.

According to the website Urbanize.LA, a new Transit-Oriented Development is now underway at 215 N. Vermont, about half a block south of the Beverly/Vermont subway station.  The 4-story structure will contain “100 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments above approximately 4,100 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.”  Unlike many other local TOD projects, however, this one will be fully designated as “affordable” housing, “restricted to families making between 30% and 50% of the Los Angeles area median income.  Rents will range between $458 and $1,272 per month.”

Excavation for the building’s foundation is now underway, and it is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2017.  It will be interesting to watch this TOD take shape:

  • Will it be merely the first of its kind in a building boom near this so-far-relatively-sleepy station…and, if so, will future projects try to capitalize with more market-rate rents?
  • Or will it remain a singular example of TOD in this previously TOD-free area, and a unique example of truly affordable TODs in the mid-city area?
  • Also, if it succeeds, will we see more truly affordable TODs take root along our new transit corridors?

We’ll keep our eye on it…

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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