Transforming Vacant Land into Community Assets


On July 12, 2018, Los Angeles County directed the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) to be the lead agency overseeing the Catalytic Development Fund (CDF), an economic development initiative designed to pursue alternative strategies for the funds that included more intensive predevelopment activities. These activities include the use of staff resources and outside consultants specializing in land use planning, legal, environmental review, site maintenance, as well as architectural and engineering professionals to conduct feasibility and related studies to confirm the viability of potential development. 

In partnership with the developer, the LACDA uses the CDF funds for predevelopment activity to transform vacant land into community assets.  The LACDA and the developer focus on ensuring the community’s needs are incorporated into the new construction of these special projects. 

Vermont Corridor Project

The Vermont Corridor project includes the redevelopment of seven County-owned parcels along Vermont Avenue, between 4th and 6th street, within the City’s Koreatown Community. The project area involves three separate sites, each with a unique development scenario.

Project Timeline

In 2016, the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) was tasked to act on behalf of Los Angeles County to serve as project manager for Vermont Corridor. Under this project LACDA oversaw and facilitated the day-to-day activities of design development, project entitlement, CEQA, budget management, and overall project administration amongst multiple development parties.

In 2017, Vermont Corridor successfully reached multiple milestones in the pre-development process. These milestones included the delivery of the Schematic Design package to the County, the finalization of the project description, the scheduling of the first public scoping/community meetings and the initiation of the environmental review process.

In 2018, with approval by the Board of Supervisors, the project started construction.

Site Descriptions

Site 1 includes the development of the 21-story County administrative building. Once completed, the Los Angeles County Departments of Mental Health (LACDMH) and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) will occupy this administrative building.  The anticipated completion date is June 30, 2021, with occupancy of the building to follow soon thereafter.

Site 2 is the adaptive reuse of the existing 12-story LACDMH building at 550 S. Vermont Avenue.  While the redevelopment strategy is presently on hold pending the completion of the 510 S. Vermont building, options for the 550 site includes a mix of up to 172 residential units with parking and enhanced ground floor commercial services, or expanded County administrative activities in an enhanced, environmentally-efficient, and fully-updated building.  A decision on the use of the site is expected by the end of 2021.  

Site 3 is located at 433 S. Vermont Avenue. The development consists of affordable housing units for seniors, a community recreation center, and underground parking. The 72 affordable housing units will have 57 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom units, and one unit for an onsite manager. Residents of these units must be 62 years or older and have an income medium between 30%-60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The community recreation center will be 12,500 square feet, operated by YMCA, and be located on the ground floor. Lastly, two subterranean parking levels will be built with 116 parking spaces for residential and commercial use. 

Vermont Manchester Project

The site is located on the east side of the 8400 and 8500 blocks of South Vermont Avenue in the City of Los Angeles and is a mixed-use project which will include affordable housing, retail, a transit plaza, a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) training center, and a parking structure.

Project Timeline
On September 11, 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized the execution of an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) between BRIDGE Housing Corporation and the LACDA to develop an approximately 4.2-acre site acquired by the County through eminent domain. 

The development team, which is comprised of the BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Primestor Development, Inc. and the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, proposed a project that includes 180 affordable housing units across two developments: the first composed of 118 family units and the second composed of 62 permanent supportive housing units for seniors. The Project will also include approximately 70,000 square feet of commercial space expected to entail a grocery store and the Metro training center. There will also be a transit plaza of approximately 21,500 square feet, which will provide open space amenities for the community and an approximately 499-space parking structure, which will serve the Project, but separately developed by the SEED School of Los Angeles County.

In October 2020, the LACDA helped break ground on the SEED School of Los Angeles County.

MLK Wellness Center

The project consists of 52,000 square feet, state-of-the-art outpatient medical facility with adjacent parking that is located at the corner of 120th Street and Wilmington Avenue in the Willowbrook community.  

Project Description/Narrative:
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Office Building (MLK/MOB) was initially authorized by the Board of Supervisors on September 26, 2017, to have the LACDA serve as the County’s agent for development of the site.  

Construction began in October 2018, and was completed in April 2020.  The facility is now operational and receiving patients. Trammell Crow, the lead developer for this project, completed the permanent financing activities to close out the transaction in August 2020.  

Once there is confirmation of the availability of additional parking, the developer will look to initiate a second phase of the development with another medical office building to help satisfy the high demand for medical services in the area.

West LA Courthouse

The proposed project, named The West Los Angeles Commons, consists of the following:

- Approximately 431 units of affordable to moderate income housing
- 83 units of Moderate Income Housing (between 80% and 120% of area median income)
- 495 units of market rate housing
- 93,000 SF for municipal buildings
- 41,000 SF for commercial space
- 118,000 SF for public open space

Project Timeline
On May 31, 2019, the LACDA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to the development community regarding the state-owned courthouse located at 1633 Purdue Avenue, located along the western edge of the City of Los Angeles. The intent of the RFI was to identify potential uses of the three-acre site that may include a combination of market rate and affordable housing, commercial, and retail opportunities. Information gathered from the RFI was used to jointly issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) with the City of Los Angeles. 

The RFP was issued on May 15, 2020.  On January 14, 2021, the selection panel ultimately recommended an award of the project to the development team of AvalonBay Communities and Adobe Communities.

On March 9, 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the development team and authorized LACDA to enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENF).  The ENA period is expected to take 24 months and will culminate with the execution of ground lease documents to transfer control of the project site to the developer. 

Willowbrook Joint Development Project

The proposed project is approximately 12.8 acres and consists of approximately 252 affordable housing units, 70 workforce housing units, and 263 residential dormitory units. Also proposed are 46,000 square feet of office, research, and clinical space, 40,000 square feet of administrative office facilities dedicated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, and approximately 50,000 square feet of administrative office space dedicated to the Drew Child Development Corporation.  An additional 90,000 square feet of athletic and open space will also be developed to highlight this educational, medical, and wellness-oriented campus.

Project Timeline
In February 2019, the LACDA executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) to conduct a redevelopment feasibility analysis on the former Lincoln Elementary School site located at 1667 E. 118th Street. Upon completion of the feasibility analysis, the CUSD and the LACDA jointly issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for development. 

In July 2020, the development team, CDU/MLK Wellness Collaborative, LLC. which is comprised of the following members: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Thomas Safran and Associates Inc., and Century Housing Corporation, won the contract.

Final lease agreements and contracts are expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and CUSD by the end of 2022.