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Condo Plan for Church Site May Not Have Prayer

A proposal by KB Home to build a three-story, 58-unit condominium development adjacent to a large nature preserve in Chatsworth has drawn strong opposition from West Valley residents. At a hearing before the L.A. City Planning Commission last week, more than a dozen local homeowners turned out to speak against the proposal. No one, other than the developer, spoke in favor of the project, said City Planner Thomas Glick, who will issue a recommendation to the commission next month on whether to approve the project. The L.A. residential developer declined to comment on its plans, first unveiled last spring, to put a 126,000-square-foot condo development on the former home of the West Valley Christian Church and Canyon Vista Preschool at 22001 Nordhoff St. The company has an option to purchase the property from the church if it gets the required entitlements to develop it, Glick said. There is high demand for new housing in the Valley, both from individuals and from investors who are purchasing units as rentals, said Matt Epstein, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Sherman Oaks. “The demand for new construction is very, very strong. There are lots of buyers and the interest rates are still fantastic,” he said. As of April, the median sales price for a condominium in the San Fernando Valley hit its highest figure since 2008, at $350,000 – up 12.2 percent year-over-year, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. Favorable market conditions likely influenced KB Homes’ plans in Chatsworth, but the developer first ran into opposition last summer from the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, whose land-use committee objected to the project’s density even after plans for the 5-acre site were scaled down from 73 units to 58. Committee members said they would approve of a single-family home tract on the property, but KB rejected that idea as not financially feasible, said Council President Andre van der Valk. Councilmembers concerned about parking issues and the density of the proposed project voted down the developer’s plan earlier this month, he said. “In Chatsworth we have a lot of destination properties that abut state parks or the nature preserve and we’re protective of them. And this is one of them,” he said. The property is just west of Topanga Canyon Boulevard and east of the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, a 1,325-acre protected area owned and managed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It is currently zoned for low-density agricultural use. KB Homes’ proposal calls for three- and four-bedroom units ranging from 1,900- to 2,200-square-feet each, with private patios and two-car garages. A 14,000-square-foot open space on the southwest corner of the property would provide a buffer between the units and the nature preserve. Glick expects to issue his recommendation on the plan about a week before it comes up again before the planning commission on July 23 for a final vote. Their decision can be appealed to the L.A. City Council by either the developer or local residents, he said.

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