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L.A. Eco-Village Buying Property, Planning New Car-Free Mixed-Use Building

8:51 AM PDT on August 25, 2016

Interested party note: I, Streetsblog Los Angeles Editor Joe Linton, live at L.A. Eco-Village and am an owner in the Urban Soil/Tierra Urban housing co-operative. I don't have any direct fiscal stake in the new development, but am nonetheless an involved party and very interested in seeing it improve my neighborhood.

Los Angeles Eco-Village is purchasing its fourth building. The property, at present in escrow and expected to close in early September, is currently home to an auto shop with a very small cafe. LAEV intends to develop the site into a four-story mixed-use building. Eco-Village is seeking livability-minded investors to loan money to help purchase and develop the site.

L.A. Eco-Village is purchasing this site at the corner of First Street and Bimini Place in Koreatown. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
L.A. Eco-Village is purchasing this auto repair site in Koreatown. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
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The new property being purchased is at 3554 West First Street, at the corner of First Street and Bimini Place.
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Sketch of development concept for new L.A. Eco-Village mixed-use building. Image via CRSP
Sketch of development concept for new L.A. Eco-Village mixed-use building envisioned for the site. Image via CRSP
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The eco-village project is managed by a handful of non-profits which include the Cooperative Resources and Services Project (CRSP), the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT), and the Urban Soil/Tierra Urbana housing co-op (USTU). CRSP is the organization spearheading the new purchase.

L.A. Eco-Village is an urban intentional community that has played big roles in Los Angeles movements for livability, walkability, and bikeability. Starting in the mid-1990s, LAEV non-profits purchased historic apartment buildings along Bimini Place in Koreatown, three blocks south of the Beverly Vermont Metro Red Line Station. LAEV currently owns three apartment buildings consisting of 50 units of housing which are managed as permanently affordable and ecologically sustainable housing. The multi-building village includes fruit trees, gardens, bees, chickens, greywater, rooftop solar, traffic-calming, and a culture of getting around by bike, walking, and transit.

The 3554 West First Street site is 11,000 sq. ft. with two buildings: a 2600 sq. ft. auto repair shop and a 500 sq. ft. cafe. The auto repair business owner owns the property and lives in the neighborhood. He is planning to retire and return to South Korea. CRSP plans to preserve the small cafe building and to tear down and redevelop the auto-repair site. The new development will be a roughly four-story mixed-use building which LAEV founder Lois Arkin describes as a "car-free environmentally-sensitive mixed-use cooperative, providing 20 permanently affordable co-housing units and 10 small green retail and commercial co-op spaces."

Running on the southern end of the site are the tracks of the historic H-line streetcar. Arkin's vision for the site includes preserving the tracks with the possibility of a vegetarian restaurant located in a restored historic trolley car set on the tracks.

As with earlier LAEV property purchases, CRSP is using a novel grassroots approach. CRSP was doing expert crowd-sourcing before the term existed. With no bank loans, CRSP manages an Ecological Revolving Loan Fund (ELF). Investors make loans to CRSP's ELF and, in 18 months to 10 years, are paid back with interest. Interest is paid out quarterly. If SBLA readers are interested in investing in the ELF in support of L.A. Eco-Village development, contact Lois Arkin at crsp[at]igc.org or (213)738-1254.

L.A. Eco-Village offers regular tours and frequent educational events.

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