Wyvernwood Redevelopment Hearing Draws Large Crowd

By EGP Staff Report

Hundreds of Los Angeles residents turned out for a public hearing yesterday on the proposed Wyvernwood Garden Apartment complex redevelopment project, which if approved would demolish a World War II-era apartment community in Boyle Heights and replace it with high-rise apartments and condominiums.

The Los Angeles Advisory Agency—composed of the city’s Building and Safety, Bureau of Engineering, Bureau of Sanitation, Transportation and Fire department heads— met Wednesday to discuss whether they should recommend approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), an analysis of potential significant environmental effects as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and a tract map for subdividing the Wyvernwood property, submitted by the property’s owners, Fifteen Group Land & Development to the City Planning Commission, according to Ibarra.

Public testimony lasted most of the day, with pleas for and against the project, Ibarra told EGP. Hearing Officer Kevin Jones collected the testimony for the planning commission.

No action was taken at the meeting, Ibarra said.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Cientos Dan Testimonio en la Audiencia Pública del Proyecto de Wyvernwood

The mixed-use redevelopment project seeks to demolish and replace 1,187 apartment units, located on 70 acres just off East Olympic Boulevard with 4,400 rental units and condominiums in several new buildings as tall as 18 stories.

Opponents to the project have cited increased density in an already dense community, the demolition of an entire community, not just buildings, and increased rental prices as some of the reasons for their opposition.

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the neighborhood, has in the past said he opposes the redevelopment project primarily on the grounds that it will increase density in the neighborhood just east of downtown Los Angeles.

“In Boyle Heights, Wyvernwood is a community within a community with its own significant and rich history,” Huizar said in April 2011. “I cannot support a project that would tear down this proud community one building at a time and replace it with a denser, lesser version of itself.”

Proponents of “The New Wyvernwood,” however, cite modernization and beautification, public safety and job creations among the reasons they support the project.

Appeals to a decision recommending approval or disapproval of either the Final EIR or tract map could delay the project’s approval timeline, which is expected to go before the full City Planning Commission (CPC) this spring. The Commission could hold another public hearing if there are any appeals on the track map, before sending a recommendation on the project to the full Los Angeles City Council, which will make the final decision.

The $2 billion mixed-use project is getting big support from labor unions, and they were among those speaking in favor of the proposal at yesterday’s meeting.

Earlier this week, Fifteen Group announced it had reached a project labor agreement (PLA) with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council for work on the project.

“This is a rock-solid commitment to support unionized construction workers at The New Wyvernwood,” said Mark Sanders, Fifteen Group principal and co-founder, in a written statement. “We have a bold and award-winning vision to transform an aging property into one of the great urban redevelopments in the country, and we’re proud to have the Los Angeles Construction Trades Council as our partner.”

The redevelopment project is expected to create more than 10,000 construction-related jobs, paying approximately $923 million in wages, and generating an estimated $25 million in annual tax revenue at completion, according to Fifteen Group.

As part of the developer’s Boyle Heights Jobs Collaborative, 30 percent of all construction jobs are supposed to go to Wyvernwood and Boyle Heights area residents. The program is modeled after the PVJOBS program that has been in place in the Playa Vista community for more than a decade, the company said in press release.

“Organized labor will be front and center to urge unanimous approval,” said LA County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo. “Fifteen Group has talked the talk and walked the walk, and now they are prepared to invest billions of dollars in Boyle Heights.”

The company also boasts creating a Resident Retention Plan to keep and transition current residents who are in good standing to newer buildings during the several phases of construction. Current tenants could also opt to apply for the city’s relocation payment of $18,650 toward the purchase of a new condominium, according to Fifteen Group.

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January 10, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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