CYPRESS PARK : Plan for Condos at Lawry’s Site Opposed

A plan to develop the Lawry’s California Center that has been vacant for two years is facing stiff opposition from the community because the developer wants to build condominiums.

The East Los Angeles Community Union, or TELACU, which is seeking to buy the property and develop movie theaters, shops, offices and restaurants, as well as 208 condominiums, has held three meetings for residents in the past two months to explain its plans and discuss the community’s opposition.

The most recent meeting was Thursday at Lawry’s, which the nonprofit developer has renamed the New California Center, 570 W. Avenue 26.

Residents do not want housing because the complex would be too dense for the neighborhood and units would not be priced low enough, community activist Art Pulido said.


About 120 residents met two weeks ago and voted unanimously against housing at the 17-acre site, Pulido said. Community support is crucial because without it, Councilman Mike Hernandez will not support the project, which is in his district.

“The ones who will ultimately speak there is the community,” said Rafael Gonzalez, the councilman’s senior field deputy.

Residents have asked TELACU officials to build a bank or store in place of the condominiums. They fear the project will open the door for the construction of dense, low-quality housing in their neighborhoods, Pulido said.

TELACU has suggested reducing the number of housing units, but warns that fewer condos would mean higher prices, jeopardizing financing by the Community Redevelopment Agency.


Without the government subsidies, construction of the condominiums would be impossible, said Phil Martinez, TELACU project manager.

If a consensus can be reached with the community, Martinez expects permits to be approved within 60 days to start construction.

If the latest proposal for developing the site falls through, residents hope to form a committee to seek out developers who would preserve the center’s gardens and architecture while meeting the needs of the community.

“We want to make sure that whatever comes into the community will complement the community,” Pulido said. Developers “are there to make their money and (then) they’re gone, and whatever they leave there we have to put up with.”