The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council has given its approval to the controversial Lorena Plaza mixed-use development project on a parcel of land owned by Metro on the corner of Lorena and First streets.
The 15-to-1 non-binding vote came at the July 22 board meeting. It means the Council will write a letter to the Metro Board giving its blessing to the nonprofit developer, A Community of Friends (ACOF), to build a five-story building with 49 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space right next to the historic El Mercado.
Dora Leong Gallo, the developer’s CEO, told the Neighborhood Council that half of the apartments will be reserved for veterans with special needs — mental or physical disabilities or a history of homelessness.
Gallo showed the BHNC an animated video that gave a three-dimensional view of the project, which some neighbors have opposed since it was proposed several years ago. They say it will bring people with mental disabilities and social ills into the community and also increase density in an already crowded neighborhood.
Some speakers at the meeting said the development would add traffic to an already jammed intersection, particularly on weekends when El Mercado receives a large number of visitors. But others said they welcomed the project because of the need for low-income housing, especially for veterans.
Gallo assured the Council that Boyle Heights residents would be able to apply for the subsidized units and that applications would be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. She said the developers had made changes in the project’s design to address the traffic flow problem.
As to the project’s density, Gallo told BHB that the project is far less dense than the city allows. “This is a transit-oriented development on a high commercial corridor,” she said, referring to its location within walking distance of the Indiana Gold Line Station. “The expectation is that that’s where density should be located.”
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