Artists seeking lower apartment rents in Glendale’s art district have a new, aesthetically pleasing apartment complex designed with them in mind. The 70-unit affordable housing complex ACE 121 recently opened in the Downtown Art and Entertainment district as a $30 million joint venture between the city’s housing authority and developer Meta Housing Corp. of Los Angeles. ACE 121 at 121 N. Kenwood St. on the YMCA property offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units with monthly rents from $508 to $1,291, said Michelle Espinosa Coulter, Meta’s senior project manager. Designed for resident artists, the complex includes common areas to create, display and perform their art – music and art rooms, a dance studio, classrooms and an 800-square-foot gallery with exhibit-type lighting, white walls and its own entrance. “The idea here is to take working artists – professional or emerging – and provide them tools and spaces they need to further their art professionally,” Coulter said. While the complex is Glendale’s first art-themed affordable project, Meta has built several, she said. In 2014, it finished PacArts in San Pedro around the time Glendale announced it was looking for something similar. “We felt it was a perfect match,” Coulter said. “These artists are an essential part of the arts industrial base, and they’re finding themselves really at risk of being displaced out of central Los Angeles.” Meta was one of 14 bidders on the project, which was a lot, said Mike Fortney, Glendale’s principal housing project manager. The city chose Meta because it has built artists’ colonies previously, including one in North Hollywood that the staff visited. “What really stood out was that the residents engaged with the community,” Fortney said. “They were very active in (creating) art and in displaying it.” That engagement, in addition to construction quality and design, were top interests, he added, because the city didn’t want to spend money on art-oriented spaces that might go unused. Residents include income-qualifying applicants – more than half of whom are artists, Fortney said. The rest lived and worked in Glendale. Meta is working with an organization named Engaged to help the artists use the gallery space, Coulter said. Currently, 20 artists are exhibiting pieces in the gallery. Retail Market Amid the hot activity surrounding apartments, investors are starting to turn their attention to retail, according to a market report by Calabasas commercial real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap Inc. The nation’s economy has improved, hiring continues to rise, and in turn, more people are moving into the Los Angeles area. The result – a tighter and pricier retail market, the report stated. Average retail asking rents are nearly $30 a square foot in L.A. County, up about 5 percent from a year ago. In the Tri-Cities, which have the third highest prices among L.A. submarkets at more than $33 a square foot, rents are up nearly 3 percent in the first quarter. In the San Fernando Valley, rents jumped 3.3 percent to $25.46 a square foot, while in the Santa Clarita Valley, rents soared 8.6 percent to $23.78. Driving the rent increases is a super-tight market. The L.A. area has a 4.5 percent vacancy rate, while the Tri-Cities’ rate is 3.3 percent. In the San Fernando Valley, vacancy is just under 5 percent. “There’s a high demand for properties throughout the Valley, but there’s limited inventory, so there’s not a lot of supply,” said Brandon Michaels, senior managing director of investments for Marcus & Millichap. According to the report, the Valley led the investor wave over the first quarter with the greatest number of property sales, with shopping centers anchored by grocery stores and other strip centers leading the way. “The sentiment on behalf of investors is that the well-located grocery and strip mall will remain strong in the market,” Micheals said. Looking forward, he explained investors’ interest has started to shift to retail from other property types, such as apartments. “The returns have gotten so low for multifamily that investors are looking for other assets,” he said. Sustainable Award California State University – Channel Islands has earned LEED Gold, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, status on its Santa Rosa Village student housing. With nearly 120,000 square feet, the complex has LED lighting, limited heating and cooling, low-flow toilets and shower heads, metering on faucets and a storm water retention basin that recharges water into the ground. “It demonstrates our commitment to sustainability and our desire to continue to be responsible stewards of the environment where we live, work and learn,” said Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Services John Gormley, in a statement. Staff Reporter Carol Lawrence can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or email@example.com.