Construction on the Pillarhenge site in Eagle Rock is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2019. The building is expected to have the same overall “Love Boat” size and shape as originally proposed (see rendering at upper right), but will be configured differently on the inside to have 31 units in total (versus 26 originally). Three of the 31 units will be affordable for low income tenants (versus two originally). These details were provided by Sean Starkey, the Field Deputy in Eagle Rock for Councilmember José Huizar, and Mike Sweeny, the co-chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council at a meeting of the LUPC on Oct. 16.
The increased number of units in the development were allowed under the city’s rules for Transit Oriented Communities (TOC), adopted in 2017 to incentivize affordable housing near public transit. One of the rules lets a developer increase the number of allowable units in a development if it is within a half mile of a Metrolink station or major bus stop. The result is more affordable apartments in a way that boosts a developer’s profit.
There is no Metrolink station within a half mile of Pillarhenge. But nearby bus stops are at Colorado Blvd. and Townsend Ave., Figueroa St. and La Loma Rd. and Figueroa St. and Colorado Blvd.
The developer of the Pillarhenge site, Imad Boukai, is a businessman from Orange County with no known previous experience in large-scale real estate development. The Boulevard Sentinel attempted to contact him before press time to ask for more details of the project and a timeline for construction, but the voice mail box was full at one of the numbers where he has been reachable in the past and a message left at another number was not returned. The architect on the project, Vanos Architects, asked the Boulevard Sentinel to send questions by email, but then did not answer the email.
The Pillarhenge site has long been an abandoned eyesore. In 2015, a group of residents formed the “Friends of Pillarhenge Park (FOPP)” to call for something more useful and beautiful on the site. (Full disclosure: Tim Tritch, the publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, joined FOPP before he bought the paper and would still prefer to see something more beautiful than what is now planned.)
The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council gave the development a thumbs up in September of 2017, partly on the ground that Mr. Boukai’s proposed development would be better than the eyesore that is currently there.
For such a large project, it has sailed through the process quite easily.