Originally Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2007
Zuma Dogg Has Paranoid Delusions on How The City Allows Developers To Waive 30 Affordable Units for a $900,000 ContributionHOW ABOUT A PUBLIC VETTING ON THE POSSIBILITY THAT ANY OF THIS COULD BE HAPPENING. Not saying it is, although I AM concerned it COULD be happening. (And when I say "could" I think I'm using the term mildly.)
LET'S GO THROUGH THE LA TIMES ARTICLE ON ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA'S PLANNING PAL CHRIS PAK AND THE WONDERFUL PLANS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE AREA, OR AT LEAST A $900,000 DONATION TO MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY. (The affordable housing, that is.)
Previous ZD article on Pak/Kay/Villaraigosa's Asia trip and caviar planning dreams
COULD THIS BE THE SCENARIO? (Grand Ave, Jr.) I HOPE ZD IS TOTALLY WRONG, AS USUAL! But one thing I am not wrong about, because it is not me who says it, but, you cannot have a vibrant downtown economy as you are planning on if all the rich people live in one area, and the middle-income, low-income workers are commuting in from the outskirts.)
"Just down Wilshire at Western Avenue, construction has begun on a 22-story condominium tower and upscale retail center rising above the Purple Line subway station...An enthusiastic Villaraigosa was on hand for the 2006 groundbreaking of the Solair Wilshire -- Pak and developer Bruce Rothman's joint venture with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority above the Purple Line subway station. "Chris is an innovative, creative architect who has his pulse on the community and the wherewithal to make things happen," Villaraigosa said."
"Koar Wilshire Western, LLC and Metro today announced the start of construction for a major new joint development project on the Metro Red Line at Wilshire/Western, a development that signifies a new day for truly urban, transit-centered living in Los Angeles. Scheduled to open in 2008, the $160 million "Solair Wilshire" project will be a 22-story, contemporary glass-walled building that will contain a mix of uses, including 186 for-sale condominium units, 40,000 square feet of commercial/retail space, common areas for the public, subterranean parking garage and 12-space bus layover zone. At 2.6 acres, it is the first mixed-use high-rise development to be built for the Koreatown / Wilshire Center community since the Metro Red Line opened in 2000."
ZD’s Bat-Appraiser says that piece of land could be worth at least $20-$25 million. Due to it’s very excellent location right above the MTA station. (186 condo units; 40,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. Huh…huh…huh…ZUMA DOGG wants to own a piece of property right over MTA, too, y’all!)
"The joint development was made possible through an exclusive ground lease agreement with Metro in 2003. Metro should receive $350,000 annually and periodic rent escalations."
[$350,000 a year? They only have to pay $350,000 a year for all that? Please tell me they left out a comma between the three and the five!?!? On a deal of this size, that’s practically giving it away for free. Oh my goodness am I jealous of that deal.
If they are getting such a sweetheart deal, I’m sure they are required to include those required affordable housing units, on-site…right? And based on the numbers, you would think at least 30, riiiiiiight?!?!]
But, "In an effort to increase the supply of affordable housing in the project area, Koar Wilshire Western, LLC has volunteered to contribute $900,000 to the City's Real Property Trust Fund No. 692 entitled "Affordable Housing and Community Amenities in CD-10.""
OH NO…Sounds like legalese code-word talk for, Just donate $900,000 into some account and we’ll let you off the hook on providing the affordable housing. (There’s a reason affordable housing is supposed to be on-site. See http://zumadogg.blogspot.com and see “SCAG” articles.)
And ZD says $900,000 ain’t squat to get off the hook for all that affordable housing!!! So basically, if this is true, it sounds like they get off the hook for about 30 affordable untis, for $900,000 which is the cost of about one or two units. And now, of course, the developer will be able to sell those extra 30 units (that WERE supposed to be affordable, for about $1-$1.5 million. (Who says the City isn’t a shady, gentrifying, society-wrecker who plans badly on top of it?)
But they’ll say, “Oh, we get this great ‘community benefits package” or “A new tree will be planted” and we’ll look the other way on the affordable housing, and all “those people” can simply move further out and commute back in. (Of course we haven’t built the infrastructure and don’t have enough public transportation lines built, but that’ll be the next guy’s problem.)
I hope LAANE doesn’t approve of this. I mean, after all, who decided we could negotiate away the affordable housing for a “benefits package” and whatnot? Did this go through any time of public hearing or vetting process? Or did a few smart people make the decision on behalf of the entire City? And would the executive director of LAANE, also be able to sit on the CRA board? Because then, you would fall into that perceived shadiness/conflict of interest category that I keep hearing is so legal, where you have one person having more than one vote on these projects. (Does anyone know if this could be happening?)
What affordable housing advocate group would allow the Mayor and the City to waive 30 affordable units on-site for a mere $900,000, when they are already getting the property for only $350,00 a year as it is?
I think we need an affordable housing advocacy group, to watch the affordable housing advocacy group. Who is LAANE fighting for anyway? The renters or the Mayor and his developer pals that love to throw accolades back and forth to each other?
"Consistent with the mayor's vision of creating a transit-oriented, mixed-use lifestyle and meeting the community's desire for a significant development in the heart of the Wilshire Center, this project will be the proud cornerstone that will spawn growth and the continued revitalization of the area," said Developer Bruce Rothman of KOAR Wilshire Western, LLC. [Chris Pak's partner]
And ZD is concerned that not only is $900,000 not enough to get away with this, they’ll end up getting all of it back, and more in the form of grant money/subsidies to build some of that profitable non-profit housing that ties into this.
I think these guys are taking lessons from the Grand Ave business model. And I think we need a moratorium on the use of the term "cornerstone" regarding downtown revitalization efforts.