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The Beverly Hills City Council advanced efforts to build the city’s second senior affordable housing development after approving an agreement on Sept. 12 to negotiate the terms of a proposed six-story, 252-unit building at 9268-9298 W. Third St.
Under the exclusive negotiation agreement with the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, a nonprofit founded in 1986 with 22 affordable and low-income apartment complexes throughout greater Los Angeles, city officials and developers have one year to reach terms that satisfy both parties.
During that year, the city is prohibited from negotiating with any other entities, and the developers will be responsible for providing regular updates and shouldering the costs of all reports, analyses or other development and legal activities, according to a staff report.
The agreement was approved without comment during the evening regular meeting, but there was more than an hour of discussion during the afternoon study session.
“This is a long time coming,” said Councilman John Mirisch, a member of the Affordable Housing Ad-Hoc Committee. “This is an opportunity to allow our residents to age in place.”
Contrary to popular belief, more than half of all residents live in multi-family housing and are renters, and the proposal’s central location near medical facilities will benefit the quality of life of future residents, Mirisch said.
“It will hopefully create a community of seniors who will be able to integrate into the larger community,” Mirisch said.
However, the project was not without criticism. Public commenters worried that the development would disturb prayer services at a nearby synagogue, increase traffic and potentially “create envy” among residents paying higher rents.
Resident Steve Mayer said that while it was a “good first step,” he was concerned about a lack of flexibility in the WHCHC’s proposal.
Addressing resident concerns, Councilwoman Sharona Nazarian asked real property development manager Logan Phillippo to confirm that construction is still far down the road.
“It could very well be that the city does not move forward with the project,” Phillippo said. “We are hopeful that the city does eventually have a project, but there’s still a lot to be considered and evaluated, there’s a lot of community engagement to be had … and any construction is still years out.”
Nazarian also noted that the project is far larger than anything that WHCHC has previously built, and asked if the company is equipped to handle the scope of the proposal. The company’s largest project, in Koreatown, has 99 units, while a 105-unit project is under construction in Westlake, WHCHC president and CEO Jesse Slansky said.
“Our infrastructure is there. Managing a building, whether it’s anything more than 30 units to 100 units, in our experience, it’s the same,” Slansky said.
By building larger developments, the company is able to spread costs over additional units, and actually lower the total operating cost, Slansky added.
“If anything, there’s benefits to the operations to lower the costs by having more units,” he said.
If it goes forward, the project will be built in two phases, with 153 units constructed during the first phase, and 99 units constructed during the second, in an effort to maximize outside funding, Phillippo said.
The units would cost between 30% and 80% of the area’s median income, and the proposal includes a 33,000 square foot rooftop area and 266 covered and underground parking spaces, Phillippo said.
City officials have been working for years to build new affordable senior housing, and WHCHC’s proposal was one of 27 submitted last year, Phillippo said.
One of the buildings at 9268-9298 W. Third St., which are both city owned, is vacant, while the other is leased to the Beverly Hills City Employees Federal Credit Union on a monthly basis, according to a staff report. The city should expect to allocate $1.8 million in gap funding, but that could change at the end of the negotiation period.
“For me, I think the time is now,” Mayor Julian Gold said. “If it could have been faster, that would have been nice, but it was what it was. I do agree that the community needs to be engaged … but I do think that this is designed in a way that will be absolutely compatible with the community.”
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