When a 1920’s craftsman was demolished over Memorial Day weekend at 421 N. Van Ness Ave, residents in the Larchmont Village area were not pleased. The house was in disrepair and flanked by two-story apartment buildings, but the neighbors hated to see it go, worried that a monstrosity might be built on the R3-1 zoned (multiple family) lot. The property sits five lots south of Van Ness Elementary School.
The mystery of what might be built there was solved shortly thereafter when representatives Sam Trade and Kurt Gibbs from American & Australian Real Estate Investments (AAREI) invited Larchmont Village residents to a coffee on Friday, June 20, to share their plans for the lot.
Owner/applicants AAREI and Tiron Augi have applied for a preliminary parcel map with City Planning to convert the parcel to four small lots in accordance with LA’s small lot subdivision ordinance allowing multiple single-family homes on one lot. Although the 8000 sq ft parcel at 421 N Van Ness would allow for five full units, the developers are hoping to build four, four-story homes, each approximately 2,300 square feet.
While the design of the small lot subdivision, which in essence are townhomes that sit next to one another but do not share walls and can be bought and sold independent of one another, is not yet firmed up, the AAREI reps showed area residents an example of a similar project they have designed and built elsewhere. AAREI claims to use “new urbanist design principles” in building in-fill projects in established communities, that allow urban dwellers to have “connection to their community.” Examples of their work can be found on the AAREI website.
Each home will be accessed via a long drive on the northern edge of the property with (two car) garages at grade level, topped by bedrooms on the next floor, a living area above that, and a mezzanine level on top configured as office with outdoor deck. The homes are expected to be a mix of wood and stucco, and the developers hope to get approval for a height of 39 feet, which would be taller than the adjacent buildings.
At their presentation to the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) on June 24th, the developers were asked by one member to give a “greater nod to the vernacular architecture of the neighborhood” when coming up with a final design. Area residents also spoke to a laundry list of questions and concerns including front, rear and side setbacks, the number and direction of balconies, if there will be sufficient turning radius for cars entering and exiting the garages, and landscaping plans.
The developers agreed they would be back to present more detailed plans to the community and the GWNC at a later date. The City is expected to rule on their request for the preliminary parcel map in 3-4 months.