GWNC Land Use considers historic Rossmore apartment project

| June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

RENDERING presented to the GWNC Land Use Committee by architect Lorcan O’Herlihy compares what is allowable under city zoning laws versus what is being proposed (at right).

Representatives from Atlanta-based developer Domos Coliving returned to the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s (GWNC) Land Use Committee last month to present more detailed plans to renovate an apartment building at 410 N. Rossmore Ave.
Domos had previously agreed to return at the committee’s request to allow for the project’s architect, Lorcan O’Herlihy, to present his plans directly to the group.

Among other things, O’Herlihy explained to committee members his inspiration for the reconfiguration of a historic Hancock Park apartment building located opposite the Wilshire Country Club.

“We are adding new housing and celebrating the existing building,” said O’Herlihy as he described the adaptive reuse project, to restore and modernize the original 1930s structure while constructing five additional floors of rental space. Once complete, the project will add more than 142 new rent-controlled units to the market.

The project represents a new paradigm and contribution to relieving the housing crisis in Los Angeles, O’Herlihy explained. Not only does it carefully adapt a historic building, but it also creates additional housing in a hybrid model of coliving and traditional apartments.

In coliving suites, residents have private bedrooms and baths but share kitchen and living room facilities.

Resident holdouts

Since taking ownership, Domos has been in negotiations with existing residents, offering either “cash for keys” buyouts, or the option to return to the building post-renovations under the city’s tenant habitability plan, which covers the cost of temporarily relocating in alternate housing.

STREET VIEW of what the reconfigured building at 410 N. Rossmore Ave. will look like after the project is complete.

Not all residents are happy with those options.

This project “is a chop shop” that is displacing a community, resident Cinzia Zanetti told GWNC committee members. “I have been in the building over 30 years and have that unit with the balcony for a reason. They are trying to displace me and other tenants with a massive reconfiguration and complete disregard for the law,” read Zanetti’s written statement submitted for the meeting.

Other local residents complained about the lack of parking for the project, additional traffic and the potential for an increase in short-term tenants moving in-and-out.

When the topic of existing residents was raised, Domos Director of Design and Construction, Richard Loring, said he was “happy to address that.”

“First of all, when we bought the building, I actually moved in, and I was able to interact and develop positive relationship with most, not all, of the residents,” said Loring.

He explained that, of the original 56 residents, 40 have negotiated with Domos a buyout, with an average compensation of $64,000. The average compensation rate for buyouts in Council District Four is $21,000, Loring said.

“I think it’s important for the committee to realize, when you have a developer that’s paying three times what the average is for buyouts, that developer isn’t behaving in a way that is below market expectations.

“We think that the way we’ve interacted with residents here is a model for how developers should approach such a development. We take pride in that,” said Loring. Addressing concerns about potential transient tenants, he also noted that Domos will offer 12-month leases for the coliving units: “We are not marketing the units any differently than any other apartments in Los Angeles.”

Committee opposes

After a somewhat contentious public comment period, committee members voted, six to four, to approve a motion to oppose the project as presented.

The Chronicle contacted Domos’ Loring to get his reaction the morning after the meeting. “There were a lot of people spreading misinformation and lies,” said Loring, who noted the “appalling” way that he and Domos Principal Daniel Alexander were treated by the public speakers. “The committee didn’t even try to stop the nonsense.”

What’s next? Loring says that Domos is moving forward.

“We submitted a building plan check, and we will continue to work with residents that want to work with us to make the transition as smooth as we can.”

But make no mistake, said Loring: “We are committed to this project, and we are doing this project. It is a ‘by-right’ development, so if you don’t like the city’s zoning code, go to City Hall and change it. Otherwise, get out of our way.”

Construction is expected to begin in late September.

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Category: Real Estate

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