LINC Housing debuts an intergenerational affordable housing community in Los Angeles, CA for formerly homeless and low-income residents
By Abby Pittman
In the City of Angeles resides a builder with a conscience. LINC Housing recognized Los Angeles’ homelessness epidemic and shortage of affordable housing, and sought to alleviate this problem. LINC Housing took the most important step to create a solution for such a huge dilemma by creating Mosaic Gardens at Westlake. Offering a lovely white and yellow multifamily building, the community replaces a blighted site that used to contain dilapidated buildings, broken down cars, trash, and unmaintained overgrowth, according to Rebecca Clark, President and CEO of LINC Housing.
“The modern design of the new building fits into the revitalization of the neighborhood and Downtown LA, helping to keep low-income residents, who would likely be priced out, in the neighborhood, and giving them easy access to the city,” Clark explained. “The building is designed to enhance its context and provide a cherished asset to its neighborhood.” With two communities in one, Mosaic Gardens at Westlake has a tower for seniors and another tower for non-age restricted apartments.
The Westlake Senior Apartments offer one-bedroom apartments for senior households, ages 62+, and rise four stories above one story of subterranean parking, a community room, a central courtyard, laundry facilities, and an elevator. The Mosaic Gardens at Westlake contain two and three-bedroom apartments intended for families with no age restriction. They rise five stories above two floors of subterranean parking, a community room with a kitchen, two open courtyards, a laundry room, an elevator, and a main pedestrian entrance.
The community was first conceptualized in early 2013 when the team began reviewing concept drawings together with LINC Housing’s staff. Construction began in 2016 and was complete in July of 2018, offering a total of 125 units. These include 63 units of supportive housing for individuals and families that have experienced homelessness, with 52 of them designated for the chronically homeless. The remaining homes are for families and seniors earning 30 to 60 percent of the area median income.
According to Clark, Lahmon Architects, Walton Construction Services, and Castle & Gray International Inc., focused on designing a building that would complement the neighborhood with beautiful aesthetics and true functionality. Mark Tessier, the landscape architect, worked with the team on the livability of outdoor spaces.
“LINC literally and figuratively moved mountains to create Mosaic Gardens at Westlake. We were the third developer to attempt this site,” Suny Lay Chang, COO of LINC, explained. “It required 12 funding sources and several project managers. The leasing plan took into account multiple populations. It required removal of 3,600 truckloads of dirt – if you lined those trucks up end to end, they would stretch from the site near downtown Los Angeles 16 miles to the Santa Monica Pier.”
This was a unique challenge that LINC had to face – the hillside nature of the infill development required 40 vertical feet of soil and constructing a type III high-rise building on a tight site. Accomplishing this was no small feat – according to Clark, the team mitigated costs through careful management of building elevations during design development to ensure Building B remained Type V-A. In addition, the building B parking ingress is from the alley to reduce to the size of the lowest floor plates built into the hill.
“Nearly 1,900 households submitted applications for the initial lottery for the 60 general affordable homes for families and seniors earning up to 60 percent of area median income. These staggering numbers illustrate the tremendous need for this type of housing in the Los Angeles area.” — Rebecca Clark, President and CEO of LINC Housing
Obviously, with a project as complex as this, that was not the only challenge the team faced. Another challenge was how to balance of the needs of the senior building and the family building. Providing for an intergenerational population is a tough task for many multifamily builders. In order to satiate both parties, LINC designed the senior building to be secured from the family building with a quiet senior lounge designed to overlook a more active family lounge with easy elevator access to the family lounge if desired. Both the senior and family buildings have generous courtyard common spaces in which to interact.
“The intergenerational nature of the community, combined with extensive wraparound services for the formerly homeless residents and LINC Cares resident services for everyone, ensures residents have the support necessary to maintain housing stability, strive for healthier lifestyles, and create positive social networks,” Clark said.
LINC is creating positivity not only for their residents, but also for the environment. According to Clark, Mosaic Gardens at Westlake exceeds California’s Title 24 energy efficiency standards, has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, and intends to pursue a LEED for Homes Platinum certification. Sustainable features include high efficiency HVAC, water fixtures, central hot water heating systems and irrigation system, drought tolerant plants, a storm water management plan to reduce water runoff, 125 secure bicycle storage spaces, and ENERGY STAR appliances in resident units and laundry rooms.
Based on market studies and input that LINC obtained from the city and county, this area is in desperate need of housing for all of the populations that will call Mosaic Gardens at Westlake home – seniors, families, and those who have experienced homelessness. “Nearly 1,900 households submitted applications for the initial lottery for the 60 general affordable homes for families and seniors earning up to 60 percent of area median income,” Clark said. “These staggering numbers illustrate the tremendous need for this type of housing in the Los Angeles area.”
Abby Pittman is the Editor for Builder and Developer magazine. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org