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Developer plans affordable apartments next to historic Watts Towers

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213 affordable units for seniors, families, and homeless residents

A rendering shows the historic Watts Station restored and incorporated into the future development.
Via Metro

Metro and a developer could team up on a 100-percent affordable housing complex that would rise in Watts, right next to the A Line’s 103rd Street/Watts Towers station.

Plans from Thomas Safran and Associates and the nonprofit Housing Corporation of America call for 213 affordable units, plus open space and improvements to the streetscape surrounding the new housing. The majority of the land is just east of the A Line tracks, bounded by 103rd Street and Graham Avenue.

Materials set to be presented to the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday offers a rough sketch of the plans. The new housing would be available to residents who are “seniors, families, and formerly homeless,” presentation documents say.

In addition to housing, the developers want to add “art-focused community and open space” and improvements to the street and landscape at the site, especially around the pedestrian bridge that goes over the A Line.

A rendering included in the materials shows the gold-colored Watts Station restored and incorporated into the future development. Erected in 1904, the old Pacific Electric Station survived the 1965 Uprising and is a city and national monument.

The design of the project would also take into account views of the Watts Towers, taking care not to “accentuate” visibility of the landmark located about 500 feet from the southern tip of the development site.

The developers submitted the proposal unsolicited to Metro in 2018, but the agency says that the redevelopment of the long, slim area along the tracks by the station “has been long anticipated.”

By teaming up with these developers on the project, Metro says it could “support broader community development goals along the A Line, where Metro does not generally own many properties.”

Last week, Metro directors considered another joint development project that was planned atop the Westlake/MacArthur Park subway station in Westlake. That project included 252 hotel rooms and 655 housing units, though only 120 of them, or about 18 percent, would have been affordable. Metro directors rejected that development over concerns it did not include adequate affordable housing.