Developer Group Approved for Lincoln Heights Jail Revival

November 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council has signed off on a development team for the longtime empty and dilapidated Lincoln Heights Jail, but it could be two or more years before construction actually begins.

The winning bid is from the joint venture team of Lincoln Property Company and Fifteen Group. The developers’ proposed Lincoln Heights Makers District beat out two other finalists vying to develop the site on the east bank of the Los Angeles River off Avenue 19 in Lincoln Heights, which is also conveniently within 5 to 10 minutes of six major freeways and a Metro rail station.

A favorite canvass of taggers and graffiti vandals in recent years, the Lincoln Heights Jail 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.”

Lincoln Heights Jail in earlier times. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)

Lincoln Heights Jail in earlier times. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)

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. The building was permanently closed in 2014, with the city citing structural and other potential hazards as the reason.

The Lincoln Heights Makers redevelopment proposes an ambitious mix of live-work housing, creative office space, commercial and manufacturing and retail space, a public market, green space that includes an amphitheater, recreation space and a communal rooftop space.

The area is zoned “Urban Innovation,” a relatively new classification intended to revitalize underutilized areas and spur job creation through truly mixed-uses, though housing and retail density quotas are significantly more limited than in some nearby areas.

Heavy industrial uses, from manufacturing to auto wrecking yards are prohibited.

Fifteen Group Vice President Rogelio Navar told EGP they propose to incorporate two properties they already own across the street from the jail into the overall project plan, adding over 3-acres to the overall development. The Lincoln Heights Makers District will run west to east from the L.A. River to San Fernando Road, and from the city yard north of Humbolt to just south of where Avenue 19 and Riverside Drive and Figueroa Street merge.

La cárcel de Lincoln Heights en la Ciudad de Los Ángeles. (Foto por Gloria Alvarez)

The Lincoln Heights Jail was decommissioned as a jail in  1965, and permanently closed for all activities in 2014. It is a favorite target of graffiti vandals.   (EGP photo by Gloria Alvarez)

The combined sites will create a destination community, incorporating a variety of uses, Navar said. There will be open space, green space for recreation and for community gatherings, he said, adding that the live-work units could be used by artists.

While no specific tenants have been named, Navar said the building identified as Makers Hall would include 40,000 square-feet of light manufacturing, such as craft beer makers or coffee roasters.

“Our plan respects the goals of the CASP (Cornfield Arroyo Seco Plan) and the Urban Innovation zoning,” said Navar, adding that other industries such as those in the bio-tech field could find a home at the site.

The Lincoln Heights Makers plan includes 57,000 square-feet for residential use on the Lincoln Heights Jail site, and proposes over 200,000 square-feet of residential space on the former MAGA building and Anhing properties – identified in the plan as the 405 Site – on the opposite The side of Avenue 19. Over 200,000 square-feet has been slated for commercial use and another 15,000 would go to retail uses, according to developers’ bid. It includes community amenities such as youth sports fields and community gardens.

The developer is also proposing the creation of “Festival Street,” a section of Avenue 19 that could be closed from time to time for community events, such as festivals, farmers market and the like.

At a community meeting earlier this year where the three finalists presented their proposals to a specially convened community advisory group and the community, some residents expressed concern that the projects could lead to more gentrification in the northeast area neighborhood.

According to Navar, however, the push back from the community over fears of gentrification has been less than in other areas of the city. He thinks it’s because the site has been vacant for so long and is not surrounded by housing, so there is no affordable housing to be lost.

“This project will bring the area into the Lincoln Heights community, connecting it to the neighborhood,” he said.

The Lincoln Heights Maker District would include mixed-use development from Avenue 19 to San Fernando Road. The development team of Lincoln Properties and Fifteen Group propose to create "Festival Street" among the many recreational amenities. (Rendering courtesy Fifteen Group)

The Lincoln Heights Maker District would include mixed-use development from Avenue 19 to San Fernando Road. The development team of Lincoln Properties and Fifteen Group propose to create “Festival Street” among the many recreational amenities. (Rendering courtesy Fifteen Group)

“I want to point out that Councilman (Gil) Cedillo did a tremendous job of informing and engaging the community in the process,” Navar said, noting that Cedillo had “appointed a special advisory panel” made up of people from the community, including residents, businesses and the neighborhood council to evaluate the proposals and make recommendations to the city council, ensuring the community had voice, he said.

Details of the development contract, including fees to be paid, the disposition of adjacent city-owned property currently in use by the transportation and sanitation departments, still have to be finalized. Once that is complete, the actual permitting process will get underway.

“It will probably be two years before building begins,” Navar said.

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.

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