Super-small "efficiency apartments," also known as "microunits," are often seen as a way to help keep housing costs low in notoriously expensive Los Angeles, but often times they end up just being a slightly cheaper alternative in very pricey neighborhoods. A proposed adaptive reuse project hopes to bring tiny apartments to Skid Row, though, with the hope of providing "entrly level, market rate" apartments for people who might not otherwise be able to live in gentrifying Downtown. The project would turn four buildings on Fifth Street near Central Avenue into 160 little units over about 10,000 square feet of retail space, says Urbanize LA, citing a presentation to the Planning and Land Use Committee of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.
The project, designed by David Lawrence Gray Architects, would break down into two categories, according to the documents: 132 "entry level, market rate" apartments—a "pricepoint for rent" that the document says "isn't found Downtown," where a great deal of what's going up are luxury units—and 28 units set aside for housing veterans. The units would average 277 square feet and the project would also provide parking for 32 cars and 40 bikes.
The structures at 721, 801, 809 and 813 East Fifth Street were originally built before World War I as hotels to serve travelers of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which had a depot was over on Fifth and Central. Most recently used by the Salvation Army, the buildings have been vacant for about six years.