Costco wants to build a different kind of store in South L.A. — with bulk housing
A Costco store could make its way to the Baldwin Village neighborhood and add 800 apartment units and about 400 jobs to the South Los Angeles community, according to renderings released this week.
The apartment units would sit above the warehouse store at Coliseum Street and La Brea Avenue, real estate developer Thrive Living announced in a press release.
Artist renderings for the proposed mixed-use project show the familiar Costco Wholesale logo crowned with an apartment complex. The project would sit on a vacant 5-acre lot that was previously home to View Park Community Hospital in Baldwin Village. It would be the first Costco in South L.A.
There have been no applications filed with the city of Los Angeles for the project, but it was announced earlier this year and renderings for the development were released Tuesday. A spokesperson for Costco could not be immediately reached for comment.
The site would feature a “state-of-the-art store, featuring fresh produce [and] healthy food options for residents,” according to the developer. The store would also include an optical service counter for eyeglasses, a pharmacy and a delivery service. There’s no word if the site would feature the traditional Costco food court.
The project would include 800 apartments, with 184 units meant for low-income tenants, equaling 23% of the total units, the developers said. The mixed-use project would be 25% retail and 75% housing. That would make the project eligible for incentives through the city’s Transit Oriented Communities program, which allows greater density and floor area than is normally allowed under current zoning rules, according to the Los Angeles Planning Department’s guidelines.
The project is meant to support families, seniors and other residents from the community, according to Thrive Living, a privately owned national real estate firm. Apartments would be marketed for affordable housing for seniors and low-income households, the developer said.
Jordan Brill, a representative for Thrive Living, said the project helps address the state of emergency on homelessness declared by Mayor Karen Bass on her first day in office.
“Our company is focused on addressing the severe housing affordability crisis in Los Angeles, while also attracting retailers willing to make long-term commitments and deliver community-serving products and services that enrich the living experience for our residents and neighbors,” Brill said in a written statement.
The developer said it would partner with Costco to hire and train local residents for an estimated 400 jobs that would be created at the store.
Thrive Living is owned by New York-based real estate firm Magnum Real Estate Group. The firm purchased the adjacent Baldwin Hills Shopping Center last year for $37.3 million, as reported by the real estate website the Registry. That location includes a Ralphs supermarket on Obama Boulevard, right around the corner from the proposed Costco.
The area is a food desert, according to Joe Rouzan, president of the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corp.
“The lack of quality groceries at prices that are affordable is something that needs to be addressed,” Rouzan said in an email.
He thinks a Costco would offer residents more options and would be a job generator. He’s also confident the developer’s vision has already signaled something that other big-box stores have not emphasized in the past — adding affordable housing.
John Cleveland, chef and co-owner at Post & Beam at the nearby Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, describes the neighborhood as tight-knit, but one that has been changing over the last several years.
“I think for the most part, there are a little bit of nerves around all these changes that everybody knows are in the works,” Cleveland said.
As a business owner, he said he knows that he benefits from more traffic coming into the neighborhood, but he also understands that some South L.A. residents could be displaced as rents increase and more high-end developments are built.
“It can be real easy for a Costco to come in and really change the whole neighborhood,” Cleveland said.
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