Overview Letter from Supervisor Ridley-Thomas

Dear Neighbor,

It has been an exciting year in regard to our effort to revitalize the corner of Vermont Ave. and Manchester Boulevard.

Those familiar with this site know  it has sat largely empty since the Civil Unrest of 1992. As a result, the community has had to wait far too long for this site to receive the investment and improvements that it deserves.

Now, 26 years later, the years of lip service and empty promises are over. A new, mixed-use development with affordable housing, retail shops and a state-of the-art academy will soon rise in this location.

On May 7, 2018, the County of Los Angeles (County) took possession of 4.2 acres of property on the east side of the 8400 and 8500 blocks of South Vermont, just north of Manchester Boulevard, pursuant to an order of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

After taking ownership, our first steps were to immediately demolish the burned-out building on the property, clean up the site and secure it with new fencing. This work was complete in May.

Now, the real work lies ahead. We want to make sure that we collectively design and construct a project that contributes to the community’s economic uplift and long-term well-being. Here is how we envision achieving this:

  • Easing the neighborhood’s housing crisis by adding 180 units of affordable housing to the community.
  • Creating state-of-the-art educational and workforce development opportunities in partnership with LA Metro through the development of California’s first publicly-run urban boarding school which will focus on preparing youth for careers in the STEAM, transportation and innovation sectors. In addition, there will also be a transit-related career training center, which along with the academy, will create a pipeline of skilled individuals from the community who are prepared to enter the region’s booming transportation  infrastructure industry – an industry sorely in need of well-trained workers. For example, Measure M, the half-cent sales tax that passed in November 2016 with the objective of building out our public transit system, is estimated to generate an additional 778,000 jobs over the next 40 years.
  • Improving access to public transportation and public space through a well-designed open plaza and parking lot that will provide significant amenities along a future stop of the anticipated Vermont Bus Rapid Transit Line, which is expected to break ground in 2024.
  • Bringing community-serving retail amenities that reflect the priorities of the surrounding community.

We know that the only way to add value on the corner of Vermont and Manchester, and to the surrounding area, is if improvements are designed with the input of local residents.

We had our first kick-off meeting on Saturday, July 7th, and were thrilled that over 200 people attended. If you couldn’t make it, there will be plenty of other opportunities to get involved, share your ideas regarding the design for the ultimate development and to determine how best to utilize the site until major construction is underway.

We also plan to keep you well informed, so here are the next important dates and developments to know:

  • On June 19th, the Board of Supervisor authorized County staff to begin exclusive negotiations with The SEED Foundation to develop and operate the boarding school component of the development. For more information about SEED, please visit https://www.seedfoundation.com/.
  • The County is currently seeking a qualified developer to finance, construct and operate the remaining elements of the project. A developer should be selected by the Board of Supervisors by September 2018.

I hope you will visit this site regularly to stay updated on the project’s progress and provide feedback. Looking forward to seeing you on Vermont and Manchester soon.

With Hope,

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Vermont Manchester Project Takes Shape

Moving one of South Los Angeles’ most innovative mixed-use projects a step closer to fruition, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to begin exclusive negotiations with the Bridge Housing Corporation as the developer selected  to build a signature housing and retail project at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard.

The mixed-use project is designed to fulfill many of the needs of the community and surrounding neighborhoods. It is slated to include 180 affordable residential units – 55 units to serve as supportive housing and the other 125 units for households earning 40 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. Accommodations will range from studios to three-bedroom apartments.

In addition, the project is envisioned to have 62,000 square feet of commercial uses, with potential tenants including a grocer, a restaurant, general retail, and a job training center to be operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The project also includes a plaza for the community and a five-story parking structure with about 400 parking spaces.

The County received proposals from six developers and, after a thorough review of each proposal, the evaluation committee recommended entering into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Bridge Housing. In addition to Bridge Housing, the developer team also includes the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) and Primestor Development, Inc.

“Bridge Housing, and the team it has assembled, has the precise mix of experience with public-private partnerships, as well as experience building both affordable housing and commercial development. It also has the sophisticated financial acumen that we were seeking,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sponsored the ENA motion and who is spearheading the project. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress we’ve made.”

Bridge Housing has built more than 17,000 units of housing, with a total development cost of over $3 billion. The CRCD maintains a portfolio of $103 million of housing development projects in operations, pre-development and/or construction in the South Los Angeles area.  Primestor, the commercial development arm of the team, has developed, managed, and acquired several million square feet of commercial/retail space throughout the United States, overseeing a portfolio in excess of $750 million.  Bridge Housing would be responsible for all contract matters.

The four-acre site, which the County acquired by eminent domain last spring, has long been an eyesore in the community, many of whom are welcoming the advent of housing and retail. In the months before construction begins, the County plans to maintain a consistent level of engagement around the wishes of the community.

County engagement began with a kick-off event last July, when neighbors were invited to share their vision for the site while enjoying hotdogs and ice cream. Next up will be a family-friendly Fall Solstice event. Stay tuned for more information!