Public Housing to be Developed into ‘Urban Village’

By City News Service

The City Council approved a plan Wednesday aimed at turning Jordan Downs, a 700-unit public housing project in Watts, into an “urban village” with a mix of affordable and market-rate homes, along with retail storefronts and “pedestrian-friendly” features.

The council’s 12-0 vote will set into motion redevelopment plans that include replacing the existing World War II-era housing units and constructing an additional 1,100 residential units over several decades – according to market demand – on 21 acres of industrial land purchased by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.

The housing authority has already spent $45 million to purchase land and prepare for the project, which is located next to Jordan High School.

The project will also include a park, community center, bicycle facility and additional retail space.

“This will be a long-lasting legacy that will live for generations in Watts, and is the first step toward improving the quality of life for all families living at Jordan Downs, where improvements have been desperately needed for a long time,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said.

The project grew out of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s $5 billion “Housing That Works” initiative to preserve 20,000 housing units in Los Angeles, and is expected to bring in 200 permanent jobs and 6,400 construction jobs, Buscaino said.

The Jordan Downs project will serve as a model for encouraging future public housing development that includes a “variety of income levels living in a community,” with physical structures that are less “inward looking” and more “knit into the neighborhood around it,” according to Alison Becker, Buscaino’s planning director.

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April 18, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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