Melrose/Highland Project May Be Upsized Under TOC Guidelines

A rendering of the 19-unit mixed use project previously approved at Melrose and Highland, which may now grow to 33 units under a new Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) application. (Rendering by Vanos Architects.)

We’ve seen a lot of new development projects in recent months that are being proposed under the city’s new Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) guidelines (which were created by the passage of the Measure JJJ housing initiative in 2016).  The guidelines allow additional density in areas within half a mile of transit stops, over and beyond what the underlying zoning and/or existing Density Bonus rules would allow.  But this week we noticed the first of what might also be a coming trend – a new application that would use the TOC guidelines to increase the size of a project previously permitted as smaller under pre-TOC rules.

According to the UrbanizeLA blog, a mixed-use development planned for 6535 W. Melrose Ave. (the NE corner of Melrose and Highland), was previously approved in 2017 as a four-story, mixed use development with 19 apartments and ground-floor commercial/restaurant space. The project was designed by Vanos Architects, which – according to its website – also designed the Highland Live live-work lofts directly across the street at the NW corner of Melrose and Highland.  The firm’s description of the new building, pictured above, said:

“The ground level has been designed to provide three commercial units and its required parking. The upper levels are live work residential units who share a…common open space with a swimming pool. The façade of the upper levels has been designed with an all glass skin imprinted with a supergraphic. The supergraphic frit provides for the graphic visibility from the outside while providing for both increased privacy and shade to the interior. Like the supergraphic so well known on metro buses, the views from inside will not be affected by the graphic.”

But UrbanizeLA noted a couple of days ago that although “some foundation work” has already been done at the construction site, a new application was filed on January 31 for a new three-to-four-story, variable height (35-56′) TOC project, featuring 33 units (3 reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants).  The application specs say the new project would have “4,895 square feet of commercial space over one story of parking on grade, and [a] subterranean parking garage containing 36 automobile and 36 bike parking” spaces.

There are no further details included with the application…no city hearing date is listed…and the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee has not discussed the project, so the application appears to be in its very early stages and nothing further is known yet. (The project representative has also not responded yet to the Buzz’s requests for more information.) But it will be interesting to see, in coming months, if any other previously approved developments in our local neighborhoods wind up similarly reconsidered under the new, more generous rules.

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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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