It’s been more than a year now since construction stopped at the Durbin, a 36-unit condo project at Echo Park and Delta avenues. Developer Adam O’Neill of the Angeles Group blamed the failure of his construction lender for the disruption but told Curbed LA in March 2009 that model units were expected to be finished by the summer. Of course, those models were never built and the only person to call the Durbin home has been a security guard parked in a car on the lot amid the wood skeletons of unfinished condos. Why has the Durbin remain dormant? O’Neill did not return several calls seeing an update on the Durbin. But it’s a question being asked by other real estate developers who remain mystified why the project remains stalled despite what is considered a prime location in a real estate market that is showing some early signs of revival. “It’s absolutely a home run,” said Mott Smith, a Mount Washington-based developer whose partnership sold the Echo Park property to Angeles Group in late 2006. “If the current owners are interested in selling, I would be very interested in buying.”
The vacant Echo Park property – once the site of a nursing home as well as an occasional goat and rabbit – has managed to defy a series of developers, including Smith. Smith’s group teamed up with an affiliate of home builder Lennar to buy the property in 2005 after an affordable housing developer gave up on a proposed project. But, a little more than a year after purchasing the site, Lennar wanted out of the deal, leading Smith’s partnership to sell the property to Angeles Group in late 2006. In 2008, Angeles Group held a ground breaking ceremony on the property. “Durbin will make it possible for families to share in Echo Park’s renewed vigor,” the company said in a press release.
Angeles Group also ended up buying a trio of bungalows on a large property on Morton Avenue. Those bungalows remain vacant behind a sign that reads “Morton Village” and weeds that rival those growing on the Durbin lot.
Top photo by The Eastsider/bottom photos and rendering from Durbin website