By Dorany Pineda
KOREATOWN — An ambitious development project including ground floor retail, a mid-level hotel and a residential tower is being planned north of Koreatown’s bustling Wilshire Boulevard, according to a proposal submitted to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning.
The roughly one-acre mixed-use project on Sixth Street between Hobart Boulevard and Serrano Avenue is among one of several projects being considered by the department, which would add more construction to the area’s development boom.
The 20-story, 260-feet high mixed-use tower project for 3800 W. 6th St. will entail 15,200 square feet of ground and second-floor retail space, a 192-room hotel from the third to eighth floors, and 122 condominium units from the ninth to 20th floors.
The project also will include on-site parking spaces that would accommodate 266 vehicles in three underground levels, which would relieve some concerns over the already-limited parking in the area. Some 170 bicycle parking spaces also will be built in hopes of remedying more traffic congestion.
An increase of vehicular and pedestrian traffic is expected if the project is realized, according to the report. It is forecast to generate about 1,966 new trips through the area on a typical weekday, a number considered of “no significant traffic impact” by the city.
Maxsum Development, the applicant, also is “requesting entitlements for a site plan review for approval of a development that creates an increase of 50 or more dwelling units and guest rooms” as well as “approval to permit the sale and dispensing for on- and off-site sale and consumption of a full line of alcoholic beverages” in the hotel, according to the report.
It is not clear if any of the living spaces will be labeled as low- or moderate-income units, nor is there an estimate of the number of permanent or construction jobs the project would create.
A third project proposal hearing is possible for October, said city planning associate Oliver Netburn. The first took place in February and a second in April. A final project decision is anticipated by the year’s end, he said.
If approved, the project will replace several now-vacant businesses on the property, including Yoon’s Auto Center, Haus by Coffee and Hunter and a print shop.
The proposal includes also the demolition of The Wilshire Smiling Tree, an operating preschool and kindergarten licensed to serve 107 students.
But Eun Ju Lee, the daycare center’s director, is determined to stay.
“I have a good location and a good school, so I want to keep going,” Lee said.
Although the school’s lease expires in 2023 with a five-year extension option after that, Lee said she’ll relocate the center and buy her own property if forced to vacate. In the meantime, she’s not accepting any new students because of the school’s uncertain future.
“I’m just going to keep fighting for this place. I want to keep this school,” she said.
The city planning department published a 152-page initial study in February for Maxsum Development’s project proposal detailing the environmental impacts, which includes a tower blueprint by designer MVE + Partners.
From the study, the department determined that “the project may result in or cause potentially significant [environmental] effects,” including noise from demolition, grading and construction, from parking structure ramps and from increased activity. Other concerns are the construction’s obstruction to public services, including its proximity to a school and the possibility of trespassing and vandalism into the construction site.
Hence, the department requested that the applicant submit a project revision that will “reduce any any potential significant adverse effects to a level of insignificance,” Netburn said.
Although Los Angeles City Council President and District 10 Councilman Herb Wesson could not be reached for comment, Netburn said the councilman has expressed general support for the project.
“I know the council office wants to see the applicant work with the community to try and address concerns that they may have,” he said. Most of the community’s worries, he said, are environmental concerns related to traffic and safety concerns related to the adjacent Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which will see an expansion of its own at the end of the year.
According to the city planning department’s most recent bi-weekly case filings published Aug. 7, the city is currently considering six other development applications within Koreatown’s neighborhood council boundaries. Most are for living units, including an eight-story residential building with 227 living units, 25 of which would be affordable housing for low-income residents.
But the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council has not yet made any official comment on the proposed project, according to Kevin Brunke, chair of the council’s planning and land use committee.
“I hope that [the applicant] will come before our committee and the neighborhood council and we will take a position as a board on it,” he said.