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4th and Jefferson Building Progress Update

The developers of the planned mixed use project at 2401-2425 W. Jefferson Blvd. have been actively working on obtaining final approvals needed to proceed with the project.

Current 4th and Jefferson

The original project went through community review in 2009. Developer Kaifa Tulay addressed key community concerns at that time, for example, reducing the building from 5 stories and 54 units to 4 stories and 40 units and redesigning the exterior to be more compatible with the street and neighborhood. The project was planned to provide 85 commercial spaces (9 surface parking spaces and 76 subterranean parking spaces) and 83 subterranean residential parking spaces (total 168 spaces).

The project was approved by the City Planning Commission on August 13, 2009. The rendering below shows the plan that was approved at that meeting.


Presumably the project was then delayed by the ongoing national recession. The original developer, Kaifa Tulay, sold a majority interest to Thomas Safran and Associates. TSA's website states they have been developing affordable housing in California for 35 years and that they currently manage 3,500 units throughout the state.

Since the 2009 approval, three changes occurred: (i) hoped for funds from the city for building underground parking failed to materialize; (ii) one likely tenant for such a large retail space, Fresh 'n' Easy, entered into negotiations for another nearby location; and (iii) almost half of Jefferson Park has become a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).

As a result, the building was redesigned without the underground parking. The retail component was reduced to about 2000 square feet, to be a the corner of 4th and Jefferson. Finally, a certificate of compatibility with the HPOZ would be required for any design different from that approved by the planning commission in 2009.

TSA Housing representatives, including Andrew Gross, Jennifer Samson, and Rick Aiken, Architect, scheduled a presentation at the UNNC Planning and Zoning Committee on October 20, 2011. At that meeting, they explained that TSA Housing has a desire to create outstanding properties, and as a result, they wanted to upgrade the quality of the building design over and above earlier efforts.

At this meeting, they presented two substantially different designs, one inspired by Thomas Jefferson's Monticello residence, and one described as mid-century modern. Although certainly meritorious in some respects, attendees felt that neither design was appropriate for Jefferson Park.

After receiving extensive feedback from those in attendance, and learning more about the Jefferson Park Preservation Plan (PDF) guidelines for Commercial In-fill (Chapter 11!), Andrew and Rick promised to incorporate our input into the design and get back to us.

They returned to UNNC Planning and Zoning on November 16 and presented a design that was substantially more compatible with the neighborhood. They took an additional round of comments, and Rick Aiken clearly had his staff working very hard over the Thanksgiving break, because the volume of new material they presented at the November 30th Planning and Zoning meeting was impressive. In addition to 3D renderings showing sun shadowing patterns, streetscape comparisons, and point-by-point references to the In-Fill Guidelines, the following new renderings were shown. The UNNC Planning and Zoning Committee voted to recommend to the UNNC Governing Board to support this project based on this presentation. On December 1st, the UNNC Governing Board indeed voted to support the redesigned project.

4th and Jefferson recommended design

Some of you may have seen the latest city notice posted on the fence at 4th and Jefferson stating that a Certificate of Compatibility has been requested.

Because of the city budget crisis, Jefferson Park's HPOZ Board has not been formed yet. So the City Planning Department has reviewed the request and determined that the above designs are compatible with the Jefferson Park Preservation Plan Guidelines (PDF). This is no surprise, as the developer was meticulously responsive to community input and requirements.

I am not yet certain if this project was relying on Community Redevelopment Agency funds to move forward, and since this month's California Supreme Court decision enabled the state to shut down further funding for the 400 odd Redevelopment Agencies, and the City of Los Angeles could not afford to continue funding the local agency, the Los Angeles CRA is expected to be shut down February 1.

I will let you know when we hear further news about this project breaking ground. Please contact one of us if you have questions.


4th and Jefferson recommended design

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