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Hundreds turn out for hearing on controversial Lorenzo apartment and retail project in South L.A.

Hundreds of people converged on the Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday as it considered one of South L.A.'s largest and most controversial building proposals -- the $250-million Lorenzo development, the latest venture of Geoffrey H. Palmer, the developer whose Italian-themed downtown apartment complexes -- including the Medici, Visconti, Orsini and Piero projects -- have drawn both praise and condemnation.

Supporters and opponents of the project jammed the main City Council meeting room, where the commission hearing was being held.

Backers call the proposed 900-unit-plus project near the USC campus a much-needed addition to a district lacking high-quality rental and retail venues. Opponents label the development a case of putting luxury apartments above the housing and health needs of a struggling, mostly working-class community.

The commission must vote on whether to allow the project in a site now zoned for medical or educational services.

Apart from its size and the controversy it has generated, the project is closely watched because of its link to mass transit -- the complex would be next to a planned Expo Line station, just one stop from USC and the Los Angeles Convention Center. As city leaders embrace public transportation as an alternative to gridlocked freeways, planners are focusing on the nexus between mass transit and urban development.

"It's the first transit-oriented project in South Los Angeles, and it will probably have a weight as to how we design future projects," said Faisal A. Roble, a senior city planner, who called the development one of the community's largest in decades.

The Lorenzo, on property previously held by the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital at 23rd and Flower streets, would include 919 apartments and 34,000 square feet of retail space. The developer says it would create more than 1,800 construction jobs, generate more than $100 million in labor income and provide a permanent boost to property tax revenues and area spending -- alluring attributes in a time of sweeping fiscal retrenchment.

A full story will follow after the meeting concludes.


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Comments () | Archives (8)

Gentrification. They're trying to get rid of the working class and move in a bunch of dumb rich hipsters.

Do you really think that, just because these new 900 units are near a transit line, that these folks won't drive around in their cars? Are you dumber than dumb?

Adding 900 units anywhere will increase population, traffic, pollution, congestion, etc. Sure, if you are going to add 900 units somewhere, it's better to put them near transit, but these folks will still use cars daily. It's unavoidable. I think our traffic, congestion, pollution, parking issues are bad enough as it is.. and we don't need to UPZONE any part of town to allow more housing units.

I agree... Most of the plans surrounding the Metro Light Rail Projects are for multi use multi housing units with no parking provisions or as they call them their "transit-oriented projects"... Parking over there is nutz already w/ Trade Tech down the street. The developers are trying to sell this same idea to my neighborhood too... Condos w/ no parking ( ?) in fact using existing parking lots to build the condos... I asked them... "Why would I walk 6 blks over to take a train 3 blocks south to go to the Mall/Supermarket?" And how am I to carry my clothes/items/groceries home? Seems they are assuming, these trains will replace cars or that we all work downtown... the only place the trains seem to lead to. These rail lines are not for the communities they bisect or traverse, they are for commuters coming into the city from 20 miles out...

This is history in the making. It is called GENTRIFICATION.

"...putting luxury apartments above the housing and health needs of a struggling, mostly working-class community."

That's exactly what is going to happen. It happened in Hollywood, and it is happening along Wilshire. Downtown near Pershing Sq.

Sure hope that this project was approved with no-parking.

I don't have problems with a true transit-oriented project and as such, I hope it was approved with 0-parking, so there are no traffic problems on the streets with this huge density.

I was there-----the project's supposed supporters (about 100 guys in orange t-shirts) were paid by the developer to be there!

A few of them acknowledged that they were bussed in from the San Fernando Valley and Orange County and were paid to show their support. One of them told me he was paid a little more than minimum wage... "but they paid me for a full day."

i am a board member of the south central neighborhood council and we unanimously voted to oppose this massive displacement of affordable and low income housing.

further, that area by the orthopedic clinic is zoned under the "Q" condition which mean any development must be related specifically to medical care, of which south central is sorely lacking.

no luxury apartments! housing & health care for south central!


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