Proposals for Old City Jail Include Mix of Housing and Retail

August 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Close to 200 people attended a community meeting last Thursday to hear presentations from the three finalists hoping to win city approval for their vision to bring new life to the dilapitated but historically significant Lincoln Heights Jail.

The city received nine proposals in response to its Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Lincoln Heights Jail Adaptive Reuse Project, but narrowed the list down to three. The RFP required respondents to include ideas that would serve the community and also provide economic growth within Lincoln Heights, along with other criteria.

“The city has really been looking at its assets through a different lens,” explained Gerald Gubatan, planning deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo at the start of the meeting.

“There’s now a process where we can look at city properties, not necessarily as surplus,” but as major economic opportunity sites for the city, he said, adding that the City Council has declared the Lincoln Heights Jail one of those sites.

The three finalists include real estate investor and developer CIM Group, the nonprofit WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services), and real estate developers Lincoln Properties and 15 Group.

Located on Avenue 19 near the Los Angeles River, the Lincoln Heights Jail is conveniently located within five to 10 minutes of six major freeways. Built in 1931, it boasts an Art Deco design. In 1993, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building City Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 587), giving it local “Landmark Status.”

The city stopped using the facility as a jail in 1965. It would go on to house a number of nonprofit groups before being closed in 2014 due to safety and environmental concerns.

While each of the finalists has a distinct vision for how to redevelop the site, all three proposals call for a mixed-use approach that includes housing, retail space and green space, among other uses.

CIM’s proposal for “The Linc” envisions a multi-functional space incorporating commercial space and housing, some of which would be low-income. The plan also features restaurants, retail stores and a community garden to serve the residents of the area.

Three finalists hoping to win the bid to redevelop the vacant Lincoln Heights Jail, presented their projects during a public meeting on Aug. 13. (photo by Jay Cortez)

Three finalists hoping to win the bid to redevelop the vacant Lincoln Heights Jail, presented their projects during a public meeting on Aug. 13. (photo by Jay Cortez)

There are also plans to partner with L.A.-based Alma Backyard Farms, a social enterprise “focused on food education, job training for the formerly incarcerated and fresh food access to the local community,” said Helen Leung, co-executive director of LA Mas, a nonprofit group working with CIM.

“Las Alturas,” the proposal from WORKS, a nonprofit organization that supports women and affordable housing, has the support of former CD-1 councilman Ed Reyes. It features low-income housing, an art center, daycare, and gardens along the L.A River to accommodate seniors and children. The facility would also include 47 moderate-income homes and 66 permanent supportive housing units.

“What you see here today is a change of image, when you remove the iron bars and put them outside to allow green to grow, you’re talking about rebirth,” Reyes said in response to questioning from panelists. “We talk about access for the people who can afford to live here, that’s what this building needs. So yes, we want more development along the river, but we can’t forget for who.”

The final project, presented by the Lincoln Properties/Fifteen Group team and titled “The Makers District,” illustrated the developer’s vision for a more accessible district for pedestrians and bicyclists. The’ plan includes direct connections to the L.A. River and would create a “festival street,” where a part of adjacent Avenue 19  would be closed off and traffic rerouted for special events.

Many of those in the audience who spoke during public comment appeared to favor the WORKS’ proposal. Residents also expressed their concerns about gentrification and housing for the homeless.

The WORKS’ project gives more value to the community, said Northeast Los Angeles resident Eunissess Hernandez. “This project really values human life … there are retail opportunities but there’s also daycare,” Hernandez said. “Think about all the people that don’t see their families because they work two or three jobs to maintain their house.”

Each team was questioned by a Community Advisory Panel appointed by First District Councilman Gil Cedillo. The panel, according to Gubaton, includes a diverse mix of representatives from the Lincoln Heights community and public sector.

It includes Laura Acalla with city of Anaheim Community and Economic Development Dept., three members of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, Richard Larsen. Mario Marrufo and Mike Montes, John Menchaca, president and CEO of nonprofit El Arca, and educator and resident Leslie Olmos.

A 40-year resident of Lincoln Heights, Montes complained that the projects did not show enough concern for area youth.

“One of the biggest problems we have is engagement of 16-20 year old youth that don’t feel like they’re apart of the community,” Montes said during his questioning of Lincoln Properties’ proposal. “What actual plans do you have to make them feel that they are a part of something and that this isn’t just going to be a new island in Lincoln Heights, but an actual part of Lincoln Heights?” he said.

In response, the representative from Lincoln Properties said the developer is committed to working with community organizations, adding that the project wouldn’t be successful without a partnership with the community.

Meeting participants were able to fill out and submit comment cards which the panel will take under advisement when it makes it final decision on which project it will recommend to the city council for approval.

In an email Tuesday, Friends of the L.A River Executive Director Marissa Christensen said FOLAR has reviewed all three proposals to determine which is best aligned with criteria in the ARBOR Study and the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, as well as FOLAR’s recently developed set of river-adjacent development criteria.

“In viewing these proposals through that lens, we were elated to see that at least one of the proposals was strong in these categories,” Christensen said.

However, according to FOLAR communications and impact manager Michael Atkins, the group is not yet ready to say which proposal it prefers, but will be releasing a statement in the next few weeks giving more details.

 

Update 11/15/2017 to include Lincoln Properties’ partner in the proposal, real estate developer Fifteen Group.

Proyectos para la renovación de la cárcel incluyen vivienda y negocios

August 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Cerca de 200 personas atendieron a la junta comunitaria el pasado jueves para escuchar las presentaciones de los tres contratistas finalistas que esperan la aprobación de la ciudad para renovar el histórico, pero muy maltratado, edificio donde se encontraba la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights.

La ciudad recibió nueve propuestas en respuesta a su convocatoria (RFP, por sus siglas en inglés) para el Proyecto de Remodelación de la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights. No obstante, la lista la redujeron a tres proyectos que incluyeran ideas que sirvieran a la comunidad, pero que también proporcionaran un crecimiento económico en la zona, entre otros requisitos.

“La ciudad verdaderamente ha estado observando el valor de sus propiedades a través de diferentes lentes”, explico al inicio de la junta Gerald Gubatan, del Departamento de Planeación del Distrito 1, representado por Gil Cedillo.

Cientos de personas atendieron la audiencia pública donde se presentaron las tres propuestas que buscan renovar la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights, un edificio histórico. (Foto por Jay Cortez)

Cientos de personas atendieron la audiencia pública donde se presentaron las tres propuestas que buscan renovar la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights, un edificio histórico. (Foto por Jay Cortez)

“Ahora tenemos un proceso donde podemos mirar las propiedades de la ciudad y no necesariamente como una plusvalía”, pero como un lugar de oportunidad de crecimiento económico para la ciudad, agregó, subrayando que el concejo de Los Ángeles ha declarado la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights como uno de esos sitios.

Las propuestas finalistas incluyen al desarrollador y empresa de bienes raíces CIM Group, la organización no lucrativa WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services), y un desarrollador de bienes raíces Lincoln Properties.

Localizada en Avenue 19, cerca de Los Angeles River, la Cárcel de Lincoln Heights tiene una ubicación muy conveniente ya que está a una distancia de entre cinco y 10 minutos de seis autopistas importantes de L.A. Construida en 1931, el inmueble refleja un diseño del arte Deco. En 1993, la Comisión de la Herencia Cultural de Los Ángeles designó al edificio como un monumento cultural e histórico de la ciudad (No. 587), elevándolo a un inmueble de alto nivel.

La ciudad dejo de utilizar el edificio como cárcel en 1965, pero después fue utilizado por varias organizaciones no lucrativas antes de ser cerrado en el 2014, debido a preocupaciones del medio ambiente y seguridad.

Aunque los tres finalistas tienen una visión diferente del desarrollo del inmueble, las tres propuestas presentan una combinación de vivienda, negocios y espacios verdes, entre otros usos.

La propuesta de CIM Group llamada ‘The Linc’ proyecta un espacio multifuncional donde se incorporan el comercio y la vivienda –incluyendo hogares para familias de bajos recursos. El plan también incluye restaurantes, tiendas y espacio de jardín para servir a los residentes del área.

El proyecto también tiene planes de asociarse con Alma Backyard Farms, un programa de negocio social que “se enfoca en la educación sobre la comida, entrenamiento los ex reclusos y acceso a alimentos frescos”, dijo Helen Leung, directora ejecutiva adjunta de LA Mas, una organización no lucrativa que trabaja con CIM.

“Las Alturas”, es la propuesta de WORKS, una organización sin fines de lucro que apoya a las mujeres, la vivienda accesible y tiene el apoyo del exconcejal del Distrito 1, Ed Reyes. Este proyecto incluye vivienda de bajos recursos, un centro de arte, guardería y jardines a lo largo del rio de Los Ángeles para niños y personas de la tercera edad. El plan incluirá 47 casas para familias con ingreso moderado y el 66% de viviendas de apoyo permanente.

“Lo que ves el día de hoy –jueves- es un cambio de imagen, cuando remueves las barras de acero y las colocas afuera para permitir el crecimiento de las áreas verdes, entonces estás hablando de un renacimiento [del edificio]”, dijo Reyes en respuesta a los cuestionamientos de los panelistas. “Estamos hablando de acceso para la gente que puede pagar para vivir en este lugar. Esto es lo que este edificio necesita. Así que si queremos más desarrollo a lo largo del rio, entonces no podemos olvidar para quien va dirigido”.

El proyecto final presentado por Lincoln Properties, redibuja la visión del desarrollador con un distrito más accesible para transeúntes y ciclista. Este proyecto incluye una conexión directa a L.A. River y creará una calle para eventos denominada “Festival Street”, donde una parte de la avenida adyacente, San Fernando Road, será cerrada al tráfico para eventos especiales.

Muchos de los asistentes que hablaron durante la audiencia pública parecían a favor de la propuesta de WORKS, mientras que otros residentes expresaron sus preocupaciones sobre una ‘gentrification’ o vivienda para los desamparados.

El plan de WORKS da más valor a la comunidad, dijo Eunissess Hernández, residente del noroeste de Los Ángeles.

“Este proyecto verdaderamente valora la vida humana. Hay oportunidades de negocio, pero también guarderías”, agregó. “Piensa en toda la gente que no puede ver a sus familias porque tienen que trabajar en dos o tres empleos para poder mantener su hogar”.

Todos los desarrolladores fueron cuestionados por un panel compuesto por miembros de la comunidad y elegidos por el concejal Cedillo. De acuerdo a Gubaton, el grupo elegido estaba conformado con una mezcla del sector público y de la comunidad de Lincoln Heights.

Entre los representantes se encontraba Laura Acalla, del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico Comunitario de la ciudad de Anaheim. Tres miembros del Consejo Vecinal de Lincoln Heights, Richard Larsen, Mario Marrufo y Mike Montes. Además de John Menchaca, presidente y CEO de la organización sin fines de lucro El Arca, y la residente y educadora Leslie Olmos.

No obstante, Montes, una residente de Lincoln Height de por lo menos 40 años, se quejó de que ninguno de los proyectos ofrecía suficiente enfoque en la juventud.

“Uno de los problemas más grandes es el de conectarse con los jóvenes entre los 16 y 20 años de edad que no se sienten parte de la comunidad”, dijo Montes durante su cuestionamiento a la propuesta de Lincoln Properties. “Que planes se incluyen que hagan sentir a los jóvenes que son parte de algo. Esto no va hacer solo un proyecto aislado de Lincoln Heights, sino que será parte de la comunidad -de Lincoln Heights.

Los asistentes pudieron someter tarjetas con sus preguntas y comentarios que el panel considerará al momento de que tomen su decisión final sobre los proyectos.

El martes, Marissa Christensen, directora ejecutiva de Friends of L.A. River, le dijo a EGP por correo electrónico que su organización revisó las tres propuestas para determinar qué plan es mejor en la incorporación de los criterios en el estudio ARBOR y el Plan Maestro de Revitalización del Rio de Los Ángeles, así como también el plan FOLAR, recientemente desarrollado con el mismo criterio adyacente al rio.

“Al observar estas tres propuestas a través de estos criterios, estamos complacidos de ver que por lo menos una de las propuestas es muy fuerte en esas categorías”, indico Christensen.

Reyes Honored With Lummis’ ‘Noicemaker Award’

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Los Angeles councilman Ed Reyes was honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation at the groups’ annual awards dinner earlier this month at the 104-year-old Highland Park Ebell Club.

Reyes received the Foundation’s prestigious “Noisemaker Award,” presented to a person whose work and contributions to the community are consistent with the mission of the Lummis Day Community Foundation “to celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and to promote cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The award was presented to Reyes by Councilman Gil Cedillo, who now represents the council district formerly represented by Reyes.

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

“I applaud Ed’s expertise and his vision in helping to draw up plans for the Los Angeles River and his long service to the community,” Cedillo said when presenting the award.

This year’s Lummis Day Festival, the 11th annual event, will take place on June 3, 4 and 5 at four Northeast L.A. locations: Occidental College in2 Eagle Rock the Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, Sycamore Grove Park and the area surrounding the York Boulevard & Avenue 50 park in Highland Park.

As always, admission to all festival events will be free of charge. Full festival schedule will be posted at www.LummisDay.org

Former Councilman Named 2016 Lummis Day ‘Noisemaker’ of the Year

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Los Angeles councilman Ed Reyes will receive the 2016 “Noisemaker Award” at the Lummis Day Community Foundation’s annual fundraising gala on April 16 at the Highland Park Ebell Club.

Reyes, who spent 12-years representing the city’s first council district, will be recognized for his work and contributions to the community, which event organizers say are consistent with their mission “to celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and to promote cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”

Born and raised in Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park and a current Mt. Washington resident, Reyes was elected to the city council in 2001. He “worked tirelessly on a range of projects and programs that improved the quality of life for the City and District 1,” the Foundation said in its award announcement.

While in office, Reyes policies supported construction of mixed income housing with affordable units, preservation of natural habitats, and the recovery of spoiled ecosystems in a manner that allowed for both natural regeneration and the construction of improved infrastructure, according to the announcement. It also cited improvements to the Taylor Yard corridor, Cornfield Park, a rehabilitated McArthur Park the Los Angeles River Master Plan among his accomplishments while in office.

Former Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, pictured, will be honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation April 16. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)

Former Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, pictured, will be honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation April 16. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)

Reyes was and still is a steadfast supporter of the Lummis Day Festival.

Since being termed-out of office, Reyes has worked as a private consultant helping private companies build much needed housing, develop water harvesting technology to recycle storm water and create mixed income and mixed use projects through the L.A. region.

He also sits on the Commission for the LA County Parks and Recreation Dept., representing Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Proceeds from the fundraising gala support the annual Lummis Day Festival taking place this year June 3-5 at five Northeast Los Angeles locations: Occidental College in Eagle Rock, the Audubon Center in Montecito Heights, the Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, Sycamore Grove Park and surrounding the York Boulevard & Avenue 50 park in Highland Park.

Founded in 2006, the Lummis Day Festival includes live entertainment, poetry readings, art and other activities that celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles.

As always, admission to all festival events will be free of charge.

Tickets to the gala (6:30-10 p.m.) are now on sale: $40 per person in advance, $45 at the door. Dinner, beer, wine and soft drinks are included with admission. The Highland Park Ebell Club is located at 131 S. Avenue 57 in Highland Park.

For more info, email lummisdayweb@gmail.com or call 323-646-8331.

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