This morning, I attended the grand opening of Views at 270, a mixed-use development at the corner of Sunset and Western. The project has 56 units of affordable housing perched on top of a Walgreens. Not only is the affordable housing component of the highest rank in design and appearance, the project is a great example of a creative solution to problems of both urban design and the housing crisis. When Village Properties came to me with their plans to put a stand-alone, suburban-style Walgreens at that corner, with a sea of parking between the store and the street, I was less than thrilled. My office has been encouraging development that's urban and friendly to street life, and this was the opposite. But working together, we found a great solution: Village would sell the air rights to the project to Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, transforming the project into a victory of New Urbanism and a first on many levels:
- the first partnership between a retail developer and a nonprofit housing firm to create affordable housing on top of retail;
- the first time the city processed a vertical lot line adjustment—an obscure-sounding detail, but an important one for future mixed use development; and
- the first project completed and opened with Housing Trust Fund money.
We've shown that we can do affordable housing development mixed with retail. Now the only question I have is this: who's next?