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Planning Commission signs off on Fashion District’s first high-rise

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A 33-story tower on Seventh and Maple

Renderings via city planning department

Over objections from Skid Row residents worried about displacement, the Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday threw its support behind a 33-story residential tower proposed for Seventh and Maple.

The high-rise would be the tallest building ever erected in Downtown LA’s Fashion District.

Residents in neighboring Santee Village say it will breathe new life into the block, bringing 452 apartments, ground-floor commercial space, trees, lights, and a public paseo to 222 East Seventh Street, a site that’s presently a parking lot.

“It’s a wonderful project and will provide much-needed housing in the area and commercial activity,” said Mark Chatoff, of the LA Fashion District Business Improvement District.

Skid Row residents and advocates disagree. The project is heightening fears about how they will be impacted by the flood of development and escalating housing prices in Downtown.

Mary Ann Curtis, who identified herself as a member of the Freedom Socialist Party, told the commission she supports Skid Row and the Los Angeles Community Action Network, which filed an appeal against the project.

“It is outrageous that you’re even considering [the project] given the number of people living in tents,” she said. “It should be 100 percent for the homeless and for the people living in the streets.”

The developer, Newport Beach-based Realm Group, is offering to set aside 50 of the units for tenants with very low incomes. But Skid Row residents would still be priced out of the building, said LA CAN’s deputy director of organizing Steve Diaz.

Realm is open to lowering the income limits in the affordable units, according its rep, Ryan Leaderman with Liner, LLP. Planning commissioners said that would need to be worked out with the City Council, which has the final say on the project.

“This about progress and moving forward,” said commissioner Marc Mitchell. “This is an important project that will transform the area.”