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Koreatown Pushing Back Against Dense and Pricey Developments

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Residents are pushing for affordable housing additions to a 27-story project

Big development in Hollywood and those who've united to opposed it are getting a lot of attention right now, but they're not the only ones who are not feeling the love for tall residential projects in their neighborhood. In Koreatown, a movement is building that's resisting tall projects whose market-rate offerings as seen as hastening the gentrification process, says KPCC, and trying to get more benefits for the existing community added to one project that's been approved.

That already approved project their at odds with currently is a 27-story-tall, mixed-use tower on Eighth Street near Catalina that the City Planning Commission wasn't too keen on, but which ultimately got approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Under the conditions of council approval, Hakim must either build some below-market rate [housing] on the premises or give $3 million to the city’s affordable housing trust," and some locals have formed a group called Protect Koreatown that's pushing for developer Mike Hakim to put some affordable units into the project.

Protect Koreatown is not the only group pushing back against the project. Immigrants' rights groups and housing activists are equally unexcited about a new development that will mostly be out of the financial reach of most of the area's current residents.

A leader of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Alexandra Suh, tells KPCC that Koreatown is a neighborhood where "90 percent of residents are renters, and the majority are low-wage workers from Latin America employed by restaurants, caterers, trucking companies and garment makers," and for that reason, more big projects without space for this majority demographic in the 'hood are a major concern.

"I genuinely believe that Koreatown is a welcoming place where everyone, even hipster dogwalkers can find a home, we just don’t want to skew our neighborhood to cater only to that population," Suh says.

This tower isn't a lone tall project in the neighborhood, either. Since the beginning of the year, two developments that include a building over 30 stories have been proposed in the neighborhood. One reaching 31 stories would rise by Lafayette Park, while another—part of a mixed-use complex near Wilshire Boulevard and Normandie—would hit 32 stories. It's not been revealed if these projects would include affordable housing, or, if so, how much.