Innovative multigen affordable housing complex gains approval

LONDON: Innovation and creativity is starting to course through architectural veins as standards for multigenerational affordable housing lift.

A proposal to build dozens of affordable apartments near Venice Beach has been approved, following a vote taken by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.

After a long and contentious public hearing on May 27, the Commission voted to approve the construction of the Reese Davidson Community. The $75 million project is a collaboration between the Venice Community Housing Corp. and the Hollywood Community Housing Corp. It would rise from the site of two current parking lots that flank Venice’s Grand Canal and would consist of a low-rise complex containing 140 apartments, approximately 7,400 square feet of commercial space, and a 360-car parking garage for both residents and visitors. The Reese Davidson Community will house formerly homeless and low-income individuals, as well as some work and live spaces for low-income artists and support staff for tenants. A coffee shop on the ground floor and a 3,000-square-foot performance space and community room will also be included.

Eric Owen Moss Architects is designing the development, which appears to be a pair of sand-colored, boxy volumes accompanied by rooftop decks, side yards, and terraces. The height of the residential buildings will vary from one to three stories, along with a taller feature to define the corner of North Venice Blvd. and Pacific Ave.

The Reese Davidson Community comes as Venice faces an increasingly dire homelessness crisis. An estimated 2,000 unhoused people are present in the neighborhood of just three square miles. While the pandemic played a major role in exacerbating housing insecurity, data, reported by KTLA, indicates that numbers were already increasing before 2020 with a 57% increase in the number of homeless people in Venice over the previous year.

Venice is one of the most difficult places in the country to add new housing units. The combination of decreased housing units and skyrocketing home prices form the perfect brew for housing insecurity. Though it seems that adding an affordable housing complex is a logical and just move, the Reese Davidson Community project has been met with a lot of opposition.

The structure’s brutal-esque design has been criticized with individuals describing it as “hideous,” “a looming mass,” and “atrocious.” Additionally, Brian Averill of the Venice Neighborhood Council told commissioners that his group unanimously opposed the project. The group called Fight Back Venice dubbed the project “the Monster of the Median” and has vowed to take legal action, challenging a claim that the project is exempt from environmental review.

Other complaints received by the commission from Venice residents include fears regarding the complex’s potential impact on crime, public parking, and neighborhood character.