Loft condo complex to rise on site near Marina del Rey

Times Staff Writer

Developers led by former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros have started work on a $90-million “workforce” housing project near Marina del Rey.

The site on Glencoe Avenue southeast of the oft-congested intersection of Lincoln and Washington boulevards is close to two shopping centers and a Costco warehouse store.

A former office building has been razed and work started this week on a six-story building of condominiums units that will be priced from about $500,000 -- below the price of most Westside residences. Units at nearby Playa Vista, for example, average $750,000 to $800,000.

The addition of 119 lofts amounts to a collision of competing needs in a neighborhood where few workers at nearby businesses can afford to live.

Area residents frequently oppose development that is likely to result in additional traffic.


Cisneros doesn’t see a conflict, though: “We think this is a great location, especially given its close proximity to world-class job centers in West Los Angeles.”

The neighborhood has long been home to light manufacturing and warehouse operations and still has active industrial businesses.

But its location near the marina, Los Angeles International Airport and freeways also has attracted corporate and entertainment businesses.

Marina del Rey, which is heavily residential, lies to the west across Lincoln.

In 1993, the city of Los Angeles approved a plan to permit housing development among light industrial uses in the blocks surrounded by Washington, Lincoln and Maxella and Redwood avenues.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he supported converting land there to residential use because traffic nearby “is unbearable. Not enough housing or transportation infrastructure was built as the Westside became a more-aggressive job capital.”

More than 1,000 apartments and condominiums are being built or have been completed in the aging industrial-manufacturing district, said developer Ken Kahan, president of California Landmark.

His Westwood-based company is a partner with Cisneros’ CityView in building the lofts at 4215 Glencoe that are scheduled for completion in fall 2008. It is also working on three other residential developments nearby totaling about 300 units.

He wanted to build in the area in part “because you can be creative with modern architecture without being hampered” by the expected design norms of traditional residential neighborhoods.

“It’s a very industrial district so we are using a very industrial approach” to design of the new loft building, said architect Wade Killefer.

It will be a boxy shape and clad in corrugated metal and other industrial materials.

“We get a lot of density that way and save a lot of costs,” he said. “You wouldn’t want to do a big box on the other side of Lincoln. A stucco condo in Brentwood would require a lot of articulation and detailing.”

Recent residential developments in the district are taking the place of commercial establishments including a moving company that generated substantial traffic, Kahan said. “We’re replacing some pretty heavy traffic generators.”

Urban planners have said that the Westside is housing-poor when it comes to offering residences for workers who aren’t well-paid executives. Much of the area’s traffic woes can be attributed to employees of local businesses who can’t afford to live there.

“Homeownership is out of reach for most workers in the city of Los Angeles,” said Robert Dhondrup of the Southern California Assn. of Non-Profit Housing.

“We need more workforce housing to make sure people delivering our critical services such as healthcare and other workers have a place to live.”

An undetermined number of units in the new building will be set aside for low-income buyers or renters, the developers said. The city allows them to build more units on the site if some of them are offered at a discount to qualified applicants with below-average incomes.

Buyers will be screened to favor those who intend to live in the units, said Joel Shine of CityView, but it’s not legal to prevent speculators from buying them. So-called flippers have mostly backed out of the region’s flat housing market in recent months, however, he said.

CityView is funded by CalPERS and Washington Mutual bank, which expect a return on their investments, he said, adding, “This is a market-rate project.”