Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The most expensive low income housing ever

Included in the $750 million first phase, which extends from First to Second Streets and reaches 35 feet from Grand Avenue to Olive Street, are 400 condominiums in two towers, 48 and 24 stories respectively, to be priced at around $1,000 a square foot or higher; 100 apartments devoted to families earning less than $35,000 a year; 284,000 square feet of retail space; and a 16-acre park linking the Music Center and City Hall to replace an unused swath of sloping green space near the government buildings.

As part of an agreement with community groups and public officials, Related Companies is to advance $50 million of its ground-lease rent toward the cost of the park. The agreement also requires Related and its tenants to meet specified hiring and wage goals and to set aside one-fifth of the units for low- and moderate-income residents. In exchange, officials have agreed to just under $100 million in subsidies, principally from hotel tax revenues, said William A. Witte, the president of Related California.
Read the whole story.

If I am doing the math right, that is $1,000,000 per low- and moderate income unit. That's public private partnership for you. I can get you a $800 hammer to go with that.

Downtown redevelopment is a laudable goal. But this effort has gone seriously awry. It does not take into account what Angelenos really need. We don't need more luxury housing. We need more housing for the working poor. A Whole Foods would be nice, but a basic supermarket is sorely needed.

Moreover, that is not an "unused swath of sloping green space near the government buildings", it is a very rare opportunity for an ordinary person at street level to get a good long view of the city.

Here is the view from the government building side of the street. I actually had to wait a while and angle my camera just so to get this picture without a pedestrian. This park is very popular with strollers. There is not much green space downtown.

Here is the view from the steps of the Music Center on the other side of the street. Note the black granite slabs? They didn't used to be there.

Here is my eye level view.

We used to have season tickets to the Mark Taper Forum a few steps from where this photo was taken. A few years ago, this view was unobstructed. You could sip your coffee or wine before the show and look at the gorgeous vista over a bed of low-lying roses.

Then, the black granite slabs appeared to aggrandize the donors and obstruct the view of everyone else. Couldn't they think of another way to recognize their donors? Wait, Mark and I donate annually, why aren't our names on one of the slabs? No one asked us if we would rather have the black slabs or the view.

They must have been aware of what they were doing. A year after the black granite slabs appeared, so did the roses. The were replaced with taller palms and pampas grass to get rid of the evidence that a gorgeous and rare long view was demolished for no good reason. When I find them, I will post pictures of how not to turn your donors into view-killing villains.

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