City Planning postpones ruling on luxury apartment complex

Los Angeles City Hall overflowed with people Thursday, as hundreds attended a public hearing for the Lorenzo Project, a $250 million luxury apartment development Palmer Construction proposes to build on the corner of Flower Street and 23rd Avenue. At the end of the six-hour hearing, the City Planning Commission continued the issue until February 10.

The Lorenzo Project is the newest in a string of Italian-style apartment complexes developed by Geoffrey H. Palmer, who built Visconti, Orsini and Piero, among others.

The location of Lorenzo was chosen in part because of the Expo Line, the new light-rail that is scheduled to open in 2012. The building is designed to have easy access to the Expo Line, a gesture by Palmer to help Angelinos move towards public transportation.

Currently, the proposed site is zoned as a Q Condition, meaning only medical or educational facilities can move there. If the commission chooses to approve the project, they will have to rezone it for residential use.

During the open comments portion of the hearing, members from the community spoke of the need for better health services in the area, especially in the wake of the closure of other nearby hospital and clinics.

Palmer Construction attempted to assuage these concerns during the project’s presentation. Among the retail space available, Palmer says they will provide a unit for a community health center rent-free for the next 20 years.

The Lorenzo Project pledges to make 5 percent of their units affordable housing, but community members say that isn’t enough. During public comment, a member of the local neighborhood council said the council had unanimously opposed the project on the basis that it would not be accessible to the people of the area.

Among the supporters of the project were 200 construction workers clad in bright orange shirts with slogans such as, “Si Se Puede, Put LA Back to Work” and “GH Palmer Provides Jobs.” The majority were workers from a Palmer Construction site, where they had been given the day off to appear at the hearing.

Both sides urged the commission to think about the economic benefits for an underprivileged population: Palmer arguing that they were creating jobs, the community arguing that health and education should come before luxury apartments.

“This may create jobs for two years,” said an attendee during open comments. “But we are going to have to live with the building forever.”


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