ECHO PARK — The few remaining vacant lots near Echo Park Lake are attracting the attention of developers and generating concern among residents worried about what will be built and how it will change the vistas surrounding the lake.
Later this week, a public hearing will be held to review plans to build five, contemporary-style townhouses on a Belmont Avenue lot overlooking Echo Park Lake under the city’s small-lot development ordinance. The ordinance allows for more intense, single-family home development than typically allowed, primarily by reducing the spaces between each home and the boundaries of the lot.
The Belmont Avenue project of three-story homes is smaller than would be allowed, says Noah Ornstein, a Silver Lake resident with the development firm Ark LOF. How the homes will appear from the lake below was a “preeminent consideration” in the design of the buildings, which Ornstein says will feature a lot of glass and attractive exterior lighting.
“We worked hard to have less density than other small-lot projects,” said Ornstein, whose project will be reviewed by the city’s Planning Department on Thursday.
Still, some neighbors are worried that Ornstein’s project will still be too big and out of place on the bluffs west of the lake.
“It’s too much for the space, and it’s not in keeping with the character of that part of Echo Park,” said Daniel Ferranti, who posted renderings of the townhouses on Instagram. “And since it will loom over the lake, it directly impacts the many thousands of people who take succor there every day.”
More new development may be in the works for several other empty parcels surrounding Echo Park Lake, which reopened a few years ago after a $45 million cleanup. Earlier this year, Downtown developer Fred Afari paid $18 million for several properties near Echo Park Lake, including some empty lots on Park Avenue and Glendale Boulevard. A source told the L.A. Business Journal that Afari would build “high-end” multifamily buildings on the vacant lots.
That worries residents like Ferranti.
“In light of things like the recent massive sale of properties surrounding the lake, I think we need to take a moment and decide what kind of Echo Park we want to be living in,” he said. “It’s a question of imprint and profile – we can encourage development that is reasonable without becoming slaves to the maximization of profit without any regard to the community.”
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