Flower Drive Historic District | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Flower Drive Historic District

When Ventus Group (formerly Spectrum Group Real Estate) released plans for the mixed-use Fig Project, the developer initially called for the demolition of nearly half of the Flower Drive California Register Historic District. As the Project advanced through the environmental review process, the West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA), together with the Conservancy, fought hard to have the developer reuse the district’s historic resources located within the Project Site.  In early 2020, the Ventus Group and WAHA found a win-win solution to adaptively reuse four of the eight district contributors and relocate the remaining four within the surrounding neighborhood.

The Project will include 258 hotel rooms, 252 rooms for student housing, and 78 mixed-income housing units. The 4.4-acre project site, located on the 3900 block of Flower Drive, contains eight of the historic district’s nineteen fourplexes. When the Project Site was acquired, these eight district contributors occupied approximately one-third of the project site.

The Conservancy, along with local advocates including the West Adams Heritage Association, has been actively participating in the environmental review for the Project since the release of the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study in July 2016. We are happy to see a win-win solution met that retains the historic buildings as part of the Project.

 

The first phase of the Fig Project’s environmental review, the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study, was released in July 2016. The Project originally proposed a 21-story hotel as one of the components, while calling for the complete removal of all the historic fourplexes in the project area, which is nearly half of the Flower Drive California Register Historic District.

 

The developer and project team reached out to advocates and held early meetings in 2017 to get community input and discuss possible preservation alternatives for inclusion in the draft environmental impact report (EIR). Given that two-thirds of the project site is surface parking and the remaining third contains eight structures that are part of the historic district, one of the potential alternatives suggested by advocates was the need for a preservation alternative that could retain the historic structures through a reorganized site plan of the proposed components.

 

However, when the draft environmental impact report was released in October 2017, the 21-story hotel tower had been scaled down to seven stories, and no alternative pairing high-density new construction with the retention of the historic fourplexes on the site was evaluated for consideration.

 

The full preservation alternative, which was identified as the environmentally superior alternative, contained low-scale new construction and was deemed infeasible for not meeting some of the projective objectives or quantities of units envisioned by the proposed Project.

 

The location of the Project also falls within the jurisdiction of the Exposition Park/University Park Redevelopment Plan and Southeast Los Angeles Community Plan areas, which both provide goals that encourage the protection and reuse of historic properties. Yet the EIR concluded that the Project was still in compliance with these plans despite calling for the complete demolition of the historic structures, as it met numerous other goals outlined in them.

 

A further concern among the community has been the loss of affordable housing units in these historic structures and the displacement that will bring to a tight-knit community of residents in these Flower Drive fourplexes that has evolved over the past several decades.

 

The first phase of the Fig Project’s environmental review, the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study, was released in July 2016. The project originally proposed a 21-story hotel as one of the components, while calling for the complete removal of all the historic fourplexes in the project area, which is nearly half of the Flower Drive California Register Historic District.

 

The Fig Project located in both the Exposition Park/University Park Redevelopment Plan and Southeast Los Angeles Community Plan areas that provide encourage the protection and reuse of historic properties. Throughout the environmental review process, we argued for the retention and adaptive reuse of the historic buildings in the Flower Drive California Register Historic District for a project that better alines with the plan areas guidelines.

The Conservancy commented on both the Project’s NOP and Draft EIR and has consistently raised concerns about this Project, which called for the demolition of nearly half of the Historic District.

The Conservancy is pleased to see a win-win solution that will combine new construction and adaptive reuse of historic structures.