Last summer, plans were revealed for a dramatic mixed-use project in Chinatown with a market, two 20-story residential towers, affordable housing for seniors, and retail, across from the Gold Line station. That project—College Station—is within the boundaries of an equally revolutionary set of planning guidelines, the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, which was designed to turn this area into an affordable, pedestrian-driven, mixed-use zone, but, says KPCC, it may not have to follow them.
Developer EVOQ Properties filed its paperwork and requests for zoning changes for the project back in 2012, and the Cornfields Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, though in the works since at least 2008, wasn't approved until 2013, so its planning rules won't apply to the College Station project. (EVOQ sold the project last August to a group headed up by Atlas Capital.)
The Cornfield plan was lauded by LA's Deputy Planning director as "extraordinarily innovative" when it was approved for its emphasis on walkable density and demphasis on cars. If College Stations were following the Cornfields' guidelines, it would be "mostly commercial, retail and light industrial, with at most 200 homes. About 20 of the homes would need to be affordable to residents of the area, where the typical household income is about $20,000," KPCC notes, citing information from Senior City Planner Claire Bowin. Instead, the development could have as many as 685 apartments. Atlas Capital is planning on putting "up to 100" affordable senior housing units into the project, but "it is not clear if those units would be affordable for local residents."
Naturally, many Chinatown and Lincoln Heights residents who put in the time to help craft the Cornfield plan are upset that all their work isn't going to matter in the case of this enormous development that could drastically alter the face of Chinatown. Community groups are concerned that adding units that aren't within the financial reach of the community and then pairing them with retail that is geared toward wealthier, newer residents will only exacerbate the problems of the existing residents. College Station is "just so major, like, it'll set a precedent," worried one Chinatown local.
· Mega-project may skirt Chinatown 'smart' development rules [SCPR]
· Huge Mixed-Use Project Could Change the Face of Chinatown [Curbed LA]
· No Parking Required in Mixed-Use Plan For Cornfield Area [Curbed LA]