Housing Boom May Change "Little" Tokyo
Parking Still in Question as $240 Million is Announced
By ELLEN ENDO
Developers of a six-acre Little Tokyo site known as Block 8 unveiled plans for a proposed $240 million, 850-unit complex Sept. 28 at a meeting of the Little Tokyo Community Council, but the question lingered: What about parking?
Located on Second St. between San Pedro and Los Angeles Sts., Block 8 is made up of three parcels currently being utilized as open outdoor public lots with space for about 1,000 cars. The new development would put three new structures with both apartments and condominiums on the site, including a six-story building with five stories of market-rate residential units and one story (about 50,000 sq. ft.) devoted to retail. In addition, two towers are planned that may reach between 14 and 20 stories high.
The new structures will be built just north of the Teramachi Senior Housing currently under construction and the LTSC Community Development Corporation's Casa Heiwa. Daniel Gehman of Thomas P. Cox: Architects, Inc. said his company looked at the whole area and are proposing that structures be situated so they complement the existing neighborhood.
The Related Companies, project developers, have an agreement to buy one of the three parcels from the Toda Company and are negotiating with Joe Lumer of Joe's Parking and Noritoshi Kanai of Mutual Trading, respectively, for the two remaining parcels.
Vince Michaels of Related told LTCC members said that some 500-600 public parking spaces are in the preliminary plans. Some at the LTCC meeting said they hoped the new development would find a way to increase that number closer to 1,000 spaces.
When discussions about developing Block 8 first surfaced, a walkway was proposed that would provide greenspace as well as access to the center of Little Tokyo, according to Ernest Fukumoto of Teramachi. He hoped that this concept could be incorporated into the Block 8 plans as well.
Ron Fong, planning director for the LTSC/CDC, commented, "We welcome the development of new housing in Little Tokyo. We believe it will further establish Little Tokyo as a neighborhood and help support our businesses."
Three major projects are already under way -- Related's128-unit residential development at Second St. and Central Ave.; the long-awaited Teramachi; and the three-phase, 500-plus unit Trammel Crow apartment projects north of Central Ave, -- may triple the number of area residents over the next two-three years.
Kei Nagao, a local resident and member of an organization known as J-Town Voice, pointed out that Little Tokyo currently has 822 residential units and about 1,200 residents. She implored Related to consider adding affordable housing in their plans. Twenty per cent of the units at Related's existing Second and Central are designated as affordable.
Fong also expressed concern about the lack of housing affordable to seniors and working families. "In or adjacent to our neighborhood, roughly 1800 units of housing are in construction or are being planned. Only 24 of these units will be affordable to a family of four earning $47,600 per year. As we can see from the five-year waiting lists for affordable housing in our community, it's clear to us that there is a need for more housing that is affordable to seniors and working families."