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 historicaly 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 lense,” 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 ecnomic opportunity sites for the city, he said, adding that the City Council has declared the Lincoln Heights Jail one of those sites.

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

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 Lincoln Properties and titled “The Makers District,” illustrated the developer’s vision for a more accessible district for pedestrians and bicyclists. Lincoln Properties’ plan includes direct connections to the L.A. River and would create a “festival street,” where a part of adjacent San Fernando Road 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, Lincoln Properties said it 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.

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)

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.

Public to Get First Look at Lincoln Heights Jail Development Proposals

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Three development team bids selected as finalists to restore and adapt the graffiti-covered city-owned Lincoln Heights Jail for a new use will get their first public airing during a meeting Thursday at the Goodwill Industries Auditorium in Lincoln Heights. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

The top three development teams – selected through the City of Los Angeles’ formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process – will present their proposals to a Community Advisory Panel appointed by the councilman for the area, Gil Cedillo. The panel is “comprised of diverse stakeholders representing the Lincoln Heights community and public sector,” according to an email from the councilman’s office. The public will be able to ask questions and submit comments at the meeting, which the advisory panel will use to make its final selection, according to Cedillo’s office.

A favorite canvass of taggers and graffiti vandals, the Lincoln Heights Jail is located on a prime patch of land off Avenue 19 near the Los Angeles River. It was built in 1931 and 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, eventually making it available to house non-profit groups, including the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA) and Lincoln Height Boxing Gym.

But the years have were not kind to the facility and it fell into serious disrepair. Besides the graffiti, there is lead and asbestos and potentially other contaminants in the building and surrounding land. The city permanently closed the facility in 2014, but is now hoping to breathe new life into the facility through its bidding process.

“A City technical panel comprised of city department representatives vetted the proposals based on RFP scoring criteria, and has identified the top three proposals,” according to the email from Cedillo’s office, which identified CIM Group, Lincoln Property Company and WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services) as the three top development teams.

While the councilman’s office said they were unable to oblige EGP’s request to review the proposals ahead of Thursday’s meeting, they did say the “three proposals offer a different mix of uses for the jail property – including live-work units, commercial retail space, creative office, a mix of market-rate and affordable housing,” and put the private investment to be made in the multi-million dollar range.

Goodwill Industries Auditorium is located at 342 N. San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles 90031. For more information, contact CD1 Senior Planning Deputy Guy Gubatan by calling (213) 453-7001 or email him at gerald.gubatan@lacity.org.

Massive Multi-Media Art Installation Opens Saturday in Lincoln Heights

March 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The massive multi-media, interactive “14th Factory” art installation opened Saturday in Lincoln Heights, in a transformed 150,000 square-foot industrial warehouse across from the Old City Jail and the Los Angeles River.

The installation is the work of Hong Kong-based British artist Simon Birth, creator of the nonprofit 14th Factory Foundation that says it produces “art experiences that serve as vehicles for social change.”

People familiar with the area often refer to the property as the “MAGA Building,” a reference to the bright blue awning with MAGA logo over the entrance to the San Fernando Street side of the nearly 3-acre warehouse and office space located just south of Figueroa Street. The back of the property, and the entrance to the exhibition is on Avenue 19, across from the former Lincoln Heights Jail.

14th Factory

14th Factory

The site’s transformation, under way for months, strips bare its non-descript industrial character, replacing it with what curators call a “mystic universe” that “weaves together elements of popular culture — science fiction, punk music, graphic novels, and film — with critical re-examinations of social and historical narratives, especially interconnections between East and West,” which coincidently coincides with the property’ own history.

From its opening in 1910 until the early 1980s, the property was home to manufacturers of American sliced bread, then to an importer of Vietnamese and Chinese food products before being sold in 2016.

What do these airplane tails wings have to do with art? Find out at the '14th Factory' multi-media art installation opening March 11 in Lincoln Heights. EGP Photo by Gloria Alvarez

What do these airplane tails wings have to do with art? Find out at the ’14th Factory’ multi-media art installation opening March 11 in Lincoln Heights. EGP Photo by Gloria Alvarez

According to the 14th Factory website, visitors to the pop-up art installation – which runs through April 30 – will be taken on a journey through 14 interlinked spaces comprised of video, installation, sculpture, paintings and performance featuring works by sixteen interdisciplinary artists from China, Hong Kong, the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada.

The 14th Factory Pop-Up Space is at 440 N. Ave 19, L.A. (Lincoln Heights) 90031.Tickets range from $15 in advance to $18 at the door, unless you happen to live in the 90031 zip code, which means you can get it for free if you bring along a driver’s license for entry. Donate-What-You-Can at the door every Thursday and 3rd Sunday of the month, no online tickets available. March 11 open 10am-10pm; hours vary, closed Mondays. For more information, to buy tickets, visit the14thfactory.com.

 

City of L.A. Seeking ‘Ideas’ to Revitalize Lincoln Heights Jail

April 14, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Hoping to breathe new life into a favorite canvass of taggers and graffiti vandals, city planners are reaching out to “potential development partners” to gauge their interest in the Lincoln Heights Jail, a city landmark located on a prime patch of land near the Los Angeles River.

The city has issued a Request for Interest (RFI) seeking potential development partners and tenants with an interest in the revitalization and re-use of the 229,000 square-foot building located on the east bank of the L.A. River and Avenue 19, and within 5-10 minutes of six freeways.

Councilman Gil Cedillo represents the area and told EGP by email that he joins the “City family in asking the community – whether developers, architects, nonprofit organizations, consultants or other stakeholders – for the best and brightest ideas on the reuse of the property.”

He said the Jail “presents an amazing opportunity to revitalize the Lincoln Heights neighborhood which has seen new investments over the past few years,” going on to cite the Alta Lofts and L. A. Prep, a commercial food kitchen, as examples of positive changes taking place in the area.

“The Cornfields State Park is undergoing renovation, and several historic bridges spanning the river are being upgraded,” Cedillo pointed out.

Built in 1931, the Lincoln Heights Jail boasts an Art Deco design and in 1993 the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building as a City Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 587), giving it local “Landmark Status.”

The Lincoln Heights Jail is a favorite target or taggers and graffiti vandals. (EGP photo by Mike Alvarez)

The Lincoln Heights Jail is a favorite target or taggers and graffiti vandals. (EGP photo by Mike Alvarez)

The city stopped using the facility as a jail in 1965, eventually making it available to house nonprofit groups, including the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA) and Lincoln Height Boxing Gym.

But the years have not been kind to the facility and it has fallen into serious disrepair. Besides the graffiti, there is lead and asbestos and potentially other contaminants in the building and surrounding land.

In 2014 the city permanently closed the facility, requiring its last tenant, BFA, to move its bilingual theatre productions to another location.

The cost to bring the property up to code is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars, according to a large commercial real estate broker with experience in these types of properties, who wants to remain unnamed because he has a client interested in the property.

The Jail’s location is likely to attract interest from multiple developers. Exactly what type of interest is what the city hopes to determine through the RFI process.

The goal is to generate conceptual ideas for city staff and elected officials to consider and come up with a range of “potential development opportunities for the site in the current economic and cultural environment, and to identify potential applicants for a future Request for Proposal (RFP),” states the RFI.

Cedillo spokesperson Conrado Terrazas said the city is taking a two-pronged approach to the Jail location, first identifying potential partners and their interest, at the same time city staff evaluate the site for potential structural and other issues. Then taking the ideas submitted to prepare a Request for Proposal to be released later this year.

Ideally, the city would like to come to an agreement for a long-term ground lease, but selling the property is not off the table.

Zoned Urban Innovation under the CASP, the site represents an opportunity to build technology, or creative office space. Live/work lofts, artists and performance spaces would also be allowed.

The RFI also notes the possibility for a school or museum, a hotel with meeting rooms and restaurants, or the type of adaptive re-use seen in the Helms Bakery District.

The city’s Sanitation Department is currently examining the possibility of building a 60,000 square-foot office building a block away on San Fernando Road and Humboldt.

The councilman is not set on a use for the property but is interested in seeing ideas for repurposing the Jail, Terrazas said.

Relatively isolated from homes, the property has become a frequent target of vandals who have covered the building inside and out with graffiti.

Terrazas said the council office has met with the General Services Department and asked them to step up security at the site. A fence has been put up around the rear exterior of the building and cameras installed, he said.

But the reality is the cameras get broken and the city fixes them over and over again, he told EGP.

Activating the space is likely to be the best deterrent. The deadline to submit a response to the RFI is 12 p.m. on May 13.

“Now is the time to do something positive with this City asset, and I look forward to working with the community to define a vibrant future vision,” Cedillo said.

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