Affordable Housing Breaks Ground above Santa Monica/Vermont Metro Station

Cross section rendering of Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments project currently under construction - via Little Tokyo Service Center
Cross section rendering of Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments project currently under construction - via Little Tokyo Service Center

This morning, community leaders broke ground on the Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments, a mixed-use affordable housing development located atop the Santa Monica/Vermont B Line station in East Hollywood. The developer for the project is the nonprofit Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), with Metro providing much of the surface land around its subway portal.

Rendering of Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments - via LTSC
Rendering of Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments – by Koning Eizenberg Architecture via LTSC

The six-story 187-unit development will be 100 percent affordable, with half of the units set aside for low-income households (earning up to fifty percent of Area Median Income), and half dedicated to permanent supportive housing for unhoused Angelenos. On-site support services will be provided by the nonprofit Housing Works. Ground floor retail will include a food court, health clinic, bike hub, and more. The project will include one level of underground parking – 69 spaces.

Map of properties assembled for the Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments - via Metro staff report
Map of properties assembled for the Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments – via 2021 Metro staff report

Back in 2017, LTSC initially submitted the development concept via Metro’s unsolicited proposal process. Metro welcomed the proposal, which greatly exceeded the minimum affordability goals of the agency’s joint development policy at that time. In 2021, the Metro board approved sale of needed portions of Metro station property.

Today LTSC Executive Director Erich Nakano acknowledged numerous project partners who have collaborated to bring the project to fruition, including Metro, city, county, and state contributions.

Metro Board Chair Hilda Solis presents a commendation to LTSC Executive Director Erich Nakano
Metro Board Chair Hilda Solis presents a commendation to LTSC Executive Director Erich Nakano. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

A significant portion of project funding is from Proposition HHH, the 2016 ballot measure where city voters approved $1.2 billion for supportive housing.

Several speakers noted that the press had prematurely written off HHH as ineffective, though it continues to fund new housing. “Providing permanent supportive housing is the best way to successfully end the experience of homelessness.” L.A. City Deputy Mayor Che Ramirez stated, “Proposition triple-H is the key tool for realizing that goal.” Noting the numbers of projects breaking ground and opening, Ramirez noted “HHH is working.” County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Hilda Solis and L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell both praised the LTSC project and several other supportive housing projects they have championed nearby.

A number of speakers touched on the importance of locating housing near transit. “It makes good sense to build developments on Metro-owned land near transit stops,” noted Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, “these projects help families reduce the two largest household expenses: housing and transportation.”

“Our transit system is most effective” Wiggins stated, “when it’s surrounded by transit-supportive land use, which includes jobs, housing, schools, …grocery stores, [and] a diverse range of housing options.”

Community leaders celebrate the groundbreaking for the Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments
Community leaders celebrate the groundbreaking for the Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments

The development’s architect is Koning Eizenberg Architecture. Construction is by Walton Construction.

Construction is already underway at the site, with a couple of buildings already cleared away.

The new development is expected to open in mid-2024.

Excavation already underway at the site. This is where the former El Gran Burrito restaurant had been.
Construction work is already underway at the Santa Monica/Vermont site. This photo shows the location where the former El Gran Burrito restaurant had been.

Find additional coverage of today’s groundbreaking at Metro’s The Source.

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