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Monday, May 29, 2023

NoHo Project Could Be Model for Valley

NoHo Project Could Be Model for Valley By SHELLY GARCIA Senior Reporter You can hardly hear anyone talking about the NoHo Commons without hearing the word “catalyst” follow close by catalyst for the city’s fledgling public transit system, catalyst for developing urban cores throughout Los Angeles, catalyst for a radical transformation in the way folks live. The redevelopment project, on 16 acres of land in North Hollywood, will bring about 716 new units of housing to the community, but the numbers hardly tell the story. Thought to be the largest urban residential redevelopment project ever attempted in Los Angeles, NoHo Commons will also be the first urban village built around mass transit and it will be among the first large-scale projects to bring together a diverse group of residents ranging from the working poor to affluent professionals. The mixed-use development, which will combine apartments and other rental housing with neighborhood retail shops like grocery stores, entertainment centers like movie theaters and offices, is so unusual, it’s difficult to imagine what NoHo Commons will look like when it’s completed. Think of almost any neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. Then add groceries, movie theaters and shops in walking distance and imagine it all sprouting up at once, in a single cohesive whole. “We’re going to be a really comfortable place to call home,” said Bud Ovrom, chief executive officer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the city of Los Angeles, which helped to deliver the project land. “We’re going to have our own movie theaters and restaurants and stores, and it’s going to be a nice place to live.” For decades, the knee jerk reaction to redevelopment was to build commercial properties high rises, civic centers, shopping complexes and North Hollywood was just a knee jerk away from the same fate, if not for J.H. Snyder Co. and Cliff Goldstein, a partner at the Los Angeles based development company. The CRA, which deemed the site a project area decades ago, had worked with several developers before Snyder came along. They built the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a local shopping center, and still the area remained blighted. The CRA hung out banners heralding the NoHo Arts District and sponsored theater groups and sidewalk fairs and still the area was more identifiable by its rows of dilapidated industrial buildings and empty storefronts. “When it wasn’t going to be these high-rise buildings, I don’t think anybody had a vision of what it was going to be,” Ovrom said. “I think Snyder changed that vision.” Using the Red Line Goldstein had watched for years as traffic worsened and the quality of life soured in his native Los Angeles. But he’d also spent time in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, where he grew accustomed to mass transit. He saw in the opening of the Red Line an opportunity to turn the tide. “The idea of what I wanted to build there really came to me as an evolution of my thinking on what the future of Los Angeles needed to be,” Goldstein said. The opening of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s metro rail system has yet to turn Los Angeles into a city of strap hangers, but Goldstein figured a residential community built around the transit hub would help encourage just such a transformation. “Without the transit link, I don’t know how this site would have stood out above other sites,” Goldstein said. All eyes are on the $218 million development bordered by Lankershim Boulevard to the east, Weddington Street to the south and Cumpston Street to the north. If the city’s first large-scale transit village works here, it will surely be exported to other parts of L.A. “It’s one of the most significant things happening in the city,” said Jane Blumenfeld, principal city planner. “The whole North Hollywood NoHo area development is going to really show what that can be like in L.A.” Dense residential areas are important to the development of mass transit for several reasons. It takes concentrated population hubs to support a mass transit system, and by encouraging greater use of the system, focal points develop that, in turn, make the system more efficient as a way of moving people. “When everything is spread out everywhere, jobs and people, it is just a train wreck for congestion, and so it’s in all of our interests to fully develop a few locations like that, Warner Center and others so you can reduce congestion,” said Blumenfeld. Self-contained community Then too there is the prospect of an emerging new way of life spawned by NoHo Commons. It isn’t just those who will choose to live in NoHo Commons and ride the rails to work downtown or in Hollywood. The development will be laid out as a self-contained community where folks can walk to the local grocery store or a movie, even if they still drive their cars to work. Studies show that most families make eight to 10 car trips a day, and only two of those trips are made for work. Cutting down on even those non-work related trips can have a huge impact on congestion, smog and quality of life. Already, NoHo Commons is shaping up to become a kind of petrie dish for a new model for the city. Other developers have begun to build in close proximity to the Metro station and other investments are poised to begin. “The exciting thing about NoHo is not so much what I’m doing, but what is happening around me,” said Goldstein. “It has even surprised me how quickly it has spurred people to come into the NoHo area and start to invest. Finally, something you read in textbooks is happening.” Largest Industrial Sale Transaction: 29011 Commerce Center Drive, Valencia Buyer: Patrick Sammons Managing Member Bay West Equities LLC, San Francisco Brokers: Craig Peters, Executive Vice President CB Richard Ellis, Sherman Oaks Doug Sonderegger, Executive Vice President CB Richard Ellis, Sherman Oaks Patrick Scruggs, Vice President CB Richard Ellis, Newport Beach What brought a well-established private real estate investment trust into the greater San Fernando Valley for the first time? The same one-two-three punch that has fueled acquisitions of industrial real estate all year: strong, credit-worthy tenants, low interest rates and high barriers to entry. Bay West Equities LLC acquired a 164,188-square-foot facility at 29011 Commerce Center Drive in Valencia for $12.7 million in a deal that gave the company not only a choice property, only two years old, but also a strong tenant, Bertelsmann AG, which operates its fulfillment division in the building. Most of the company’s portfolio is located in Northern California and Hawaii. The purchase marks an emerging interest in the North Los Angeles County region. Shelly Garcia

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