Mixed-Use Whittier Project In the Works

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A group of developers collectively known as Uptown Community Partners has entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Whittier to develop eight city-owned parcels.
The group consists of Irvine-based City Ventures, Brentwood-based Thomas Safran & Associates, Montebello-based Gentefy and Santa Ana-based SVA Architects Inc. , all of which are teaming on the development of the 6.4-acre site north of Philadelphia Street and west of Bright Avenue. It includes a former Alpha Beta grocery store.

The negotiation arrangement between Uptown Community Partners and the city will be exclusive for a six-month period. Ryan Aeh, senior vice president for City Ventures, said construction on the project would start in 2023 at the earliest.

“It was a really unique opportunity,” Aeh said . “Usually when a development opportunity becomes available it’s one single parcel and one developer looking at one product type. This was multiple parcels. It’s eight parcels that are all in uptown Whittier. It’s a really interesting, walkable suburban downtown.”

Plans for the site include 229 for-sale units and 115 low- and very low-income rental units.
There will also be 5,000 square feet of commercial development and 251 parking stalls.
The for-sale units will be created by City Ventures, which currently has more than 8,000 units in California in its portfolio.

The affordable-housing units will be developed by Thomas Safran & Associates. The company has developed more than 6,000 rental units in Southern California.
“TSA currently owns and operates two affordable housing communities in Whittier,” Jordan Pynes, president of the company, said in a statement. “We are delighted to continue this important work with the city and community to provide much-needed affordable housing in Whittier.”

Gentefy, meanwhile, is working on the commercial space, which consists of seven micro-kitchens for local businesses, a performance stage, a courtyard and more.
SVA Architects is carrying out conceptual design for the project.

“One of the exciting opportunities for the Whittier development — with multiple sites spread throughout the area —is the mission to create intentional spaces between buildings,” Ernesto M. Vasquez, chief executive of SVA Architects, said in a statement. “We can create pedestrian corridors and cohesion from the street level. Wide sidewalks will be activated with public art, landscaping, and gathering spaces, allowing Uptown to become a place of human connection where community is built. We envision the Uptown district becoming the jewel of Whittier.”

Aeh said part of the reason so many developers are involved is because the team wanted to “think about what does each parcel want to be and what’s the team that we need to assemble to program and implement it.”

“Whenever there’s an opportunity to work on a multifaceted project like this, you want to pull together a best-in-class team, so we were really looking for groups that perform on a high level,” he added.

The project, Aeh said, would be a welcome change for Whittier, which hasn’t seen as much development in recent years as some other areas of L.A., such as Culver City and Hollywood, have.

“Taking some of the unutilized properties and surface-level parking lots and transforming them into new housing, retail … really will be game-changing. It will be a shot in the arm to energize uptown Whittier,” he said.



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