Grand opening ceremony held for new TOD at MacArthur Park station

Photos by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Here’s the new release for the ceremony held this morning in the Westlake district of Los Angeles:

June 14, 2012 –McCormack Baron Salazar and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) are cutting the ribbon on the new MacArthur Park Apartments Phase A Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the MacArthur Park/Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Grand Opening Ceremony will be held on June 18 at the new development located at 681 South Bonnie Brae Street. With remarks by community leaders, a formal ribbon cutting, and tours of the new sustainable apartments and retail spaces, the event will celebrate the grand opening of the first of two phases that includes 90 affordable apartments, 15,000 square feet of retail, 100 commuter car parking spaces, and 24 bicycle parking spaces. A total of 172 affordable apartments are planned for the two-phase development.

“In a city where the motto once seemed to be ‘Build Now, Plan Later’, we are committed to doing things differently. We are closely linking our ever-expanding transit system with the planning of vibrant, livable neighborhoods,” said Los Angeles Mayor and current MTA chairman Antonio Villaraigosa. “The MacArthur Park Apartments development is a perfect example of how we can become a more livable city by connecting our residents to high-quality affordable housing options and public transit.”

Public officials, including Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa and Board Member Gloria Molina, at the grand opening this morning. Photos by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Located in one of Los Angeles’ most densely populated communities and one mile west of Downtown Los Angeles, the development is adjacent to the METRO Red/Purple Line Westlake/MacArthur Park Station and is one block from the historic General Douglas MacArthur Municipal Park. The goal of this landmark development is to serve as a model for other Transit-Oriented Developments in Los Angeles and across the county and to act as a catalyst for more development in the larger MacArthur Park neighborhood.

“Our ability to work with the private sector and build housing at one of the city’s key transportation hubs is something that can and should be duplicated throughout Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Ed P. Reyes. “Moreover, the quality and accessibility of this development demonstrates that housing can be created for people who most need it.”

The structure required intricate architectural and engineering design by Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc., with Roschen Van Cleve. Spanning an underground Metro tunnel, it not only defines a public space encouraging public transit ridership and pedestrian activity, but also provides a safe environment for families. MacArthur Park Apartments incorporate green design features that include using recycled materials, high energy efficient heating and cooling systems, dual glazed windows, water saving fixtures, non-toxic paints and materials, and upgraded insulation. In addition, each unit offers such market rate amenities as washer and dryer, dishwasher, central air and heat, and free high speed internet. Each household also receives a free monthly Metro pass.

“The MacArthur Park Apartments are Metro’s latest ‘smart growth’ success story,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. “We’ve melded transit-oriented development principles with environmentally conscious design, making the MacArthur Park Apartments a model for other housing developments in Los Angeles County.”

According to a recent study by the Center for Housing Policy, for every dollar saved on housing, a working family spends 77 cents more on transportation. The MacArthur Park Transit Oriented Development connects affordable housing opportunities for working families with a local and regional network of public transportation alternatives to help bring down the cost of housing and transit for the families that need it the most.

“The MacArthur Park Apartments development exemplifies good transit-oriented development,” explained Tony Salazar, President of McCormack Baron Salazar’s West Coast Operations. “Good TOD, like MacArthur Park, maximizes the investments cities are making in their infrastructure, connects affordable housing to jobs and opportunities for working families, and provides a safe, livable, walkable community with services and retail for residents and riders.”

McCormack Baron Salazar anticipates closing construction financing on the second phase of the project in December 2012 with construction beginning in January 2013. Construction of Phase B is estimated to take approximately 24 months. The development team is incorporating a comprehensive bike parking facility in this second phase to further promote bicycle use for commuters, residents, shoppers and recreational riders.

“MacArthur Park Apartments is a model for transit-oriented, affordable housing developments that serves as a social and economic catalyst for the revitalization of a historic Los Angeles neighborhood,” said Alicia Glen, Managing Director and head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. “It has been a pleasure to partner with McCormack Baron Salazar, the State of California, and the County and City of Los Angeles on this transformative project.”

“A high-quality development like this takes a dedicated commitment from everyone,” commented Raul Anaya, Los Angeles Market President, Bank of America. “The project could only have gotten done with a team that included Metro, the State, the City of Los Angeles, the Housing Authority, and Redevelopment Agency, two strong private banks, and neighborhood residents under the leadership from an experienced private developer like McCormack Baron Salazar. This project illustrates the best of what public-private-community partnerships can achieve.”

The $44.8 million development was financed through a combination of public and private financing that included funding from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, the State of California Housing & Community Development Department, The Los Angeles Housing Department, the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles’ City of Industry Program, Metro, the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, American Recovery & Reinvestment Act TCAP Funds administered by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, New Markets Tax Credits from MBS Urban Initiatives, and equity and debt from Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group from the sale of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits. The development began construction in April 2010.

The project is part of Metro’s Joint Development Program, which seeks to secure the most appropriate private and/or public sector development on Metro-owned property at and adjacent to transit stations and corridors.

“The Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro Rail Station plaza is one of the few remaining open sites on the entire Metro Red/Purple Line to undergo a transit-oriented development transformation,” said Art Leahy, CEO of Metro. “We are glad to help contribute to affordable housing as well as fast, efficient transportation choices for the Westlake/MacArthur Park community.”

Metro and other municipal bus lines directly connecting with the Westlake/MacArthur Park subway station include: Metro Line 20, 51, 52, 200, 352, 487, 603, 720, and DASH Pico Union/Echo Park.


7 replies

  1. As the site is owned by Metro, and there were 100 surface parking spaces on the sites prior to development, there was a requirement to replace those spaces. Most transit agencies impose similar requirements when land goes out for Joint Development. One might argue that these requirements are antiquated, but little can be done on a project by project basis. There maybe federal requirements that date back to the original funding (not sure if that is the case here or not). This goes back to a park n’ ride mentality of the 70’s and 80’s. Interestingly, Metro is providing zero park-n-ride spaces on the proposed westside subway extension, and but that has generated some push-back from other quarters.

    As far as this project, there will be a total of 172 dwelling units, in two phases. They are mostly 2 and 3 bedroom units. There is a little less than 17,000 sf of retail in Phase 1 (a teeny bit more than the article reports) and there will be another 17,000 sf in Phase 2. Specific retail tenants are not yet known. At 2 spaces/1000 sf of retail, (which by the way is equivalent to what would be required even in transit friendly cities such as DC and is more or less the parking ratio in Downtown Santa Monica, which so many complain about) and which most retailers would cringe at, that amounts to 67-68 needed spaces. You can do the math, but you’ll see that the remaning spaces roughly equates to 1 space / unit, which would be allowed under AB904. I don’t define TOD by a single metric, but rather by a larger set of factors, that include density, diversity, design and destination (place).

    No one wants to build more parking than is absolutely necessary. However most developers, and more importantly most lenders would be resistent to go below 1/unit in L.A. particularly for 2 and 3br apartments. It’s not that there aren’t car-free households in in L.A., its just that is not yet the norm, it isn’t even a healthy minority yet.

  2. Ywhynot, that is very interesting, and I glad we’ve been able to have this exchange.

    The idea of car share seems to be gaining broader appeal. The perks from prime parking spot locations in a garage to even having electric power charge stations is making it attractive. For the developers, some of the push back on parking actually comes from the neighbors who worry about reduced street parking once a new mixed-use building gets constructed. The 0.8 spots per unit makes me laugh only from my days of having to count parking spaces to see if the property met the parking ratio. You always had to round up to a whole number.

    Subsidies are a whole topic worth getting exploring. Have you found a site/resource that tracts nothing but TOD projects? I’ve seen the site for skyscrapers but TODs can have such heavy impact on changing an area. I’d like it to have the project stats – made very clear unlike what I usually see. Then one can compared TODs apples-to-apples. I’ll keep my eyes open about AB 904.

  3. Leigh,

    That does help. My main concern is if the 100 commuter parking spots are included in the total 338 planned parking places that I read from the housing authority website. I am pretty positive the entire development is going to be 172 units. I still just think they are including entirely too much parking based on the use of the development to call it TOD. San Francisco recently approved a new development in the Mission Area where they included I believe 20 or so units with NO NEW ADDITIONAL PARKING. That is TOD! I really hope California passes AB 904 (eliminate parking minimums of more that 1 per unit for transit rich areas). If you are going to adhere to a new paradigm, just do it. Maybe mandate car share parking be 35% of parking lot or bike parking be 20% of parking area. The amount that southern California still subsidizes single occupancy vehicle trips is just crazy. I recently finished a project where the developer had to fight for 0.8 spots per unit in an area flush with High Occupancy Transit that will literally be steps from every entrance.

  4. Ywhynot, I thought I’d try to add something to your comment.

    I looked up the parking requirement and the ordinance for Mixed-Use says reduced parking requirements are ok:

    “Provided, however, a minimum of two spaces for every 1,000 square feet of non-residential floor area shall be required.”

    So this would mean for the 15,000 sf of retail, it would be 30 leaving 308 parking spaces for residential. Normally parking ratios are based on the type of commercial use so a heavy customer use like a cafe, bar or restaurant is one for every 100 sf. For a dwelling, it is 2 per unit but there are increases for those with more bedrooms. Just deducting the commercial requirement using the reduced parking requirement gives the potential ratio:

    If there are 172 units, there would be 1.79 parking spaces per unit.
    If there are 262 units, which may be correct (see copy from article below), then the ratio is 1.17 parking spaces for every unit.

    90 affordable apartments, 15,000 square feet of retail, 100 commuter car parking spaces, and 24 bicycle parking spaces. A total of 172 affordable apartments are planned for the two-phase development.

    Note: it would be helpful to know more about the unit types, as in one, two or three-bedrooms and the specific commercial use.

    Hope that helps.

  5. I read that there are 338 total parking spaces for the entire development (Phases A and B). There are 172 units total. Approximately 100 spaces are for commuters and I assume 10-15 for the retail total. That equates to a total of 1.3 spaces per unit. That is not TOD. TOD is 0.5 to 0.8 spaces per unit on a development that is 100 feet or less from several modes of transportation including rail and bus options. This project is a classic “slightly-better” being touted as revolutionary. Can someone confirm my numbers? (If the 100 commuter spaces are not included in the parking spaces count that equates to 2 spaces per unit, which is terrible, and a complete non-TOD development)

  6. What are the requisites for qualification? Do you take in mind all personal bills or just look at income?