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In The Spotlight

A Catalyst for Community: Metro Hollywood Apartments and a Public Market for Thai Town

Members Sponsors Awards
Citibank, N.A. Hollywood Community Housing Corporation AHP Award: $240,000
Union Bank Thai Community Development Center AHEAD Award: $25,000

 

Since 2004, Metro Hollywood has provided an affordable place to live in a community that is largely lower income but extremely rich in cultural diversity.

Building affordable housing along public transit corridors and close to job centers means shorter commutes for workers, less pollution from cars stuck in rush-hour traffic, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and a higher quality of life for local working families—all high priorities for the City of Los Angeles.

Located immediately adjacent to the Hollywood Western Metro Red Line Station, Metro Hollywood has 60 affordable 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments, 1,100 square feet of retail space, and a daycare center with room for 70 resident and non-resident children. The first transit village designed to serve low-income Southern Californians, it makes public transit more accessible for the people who need it most to get to work and school.

“Metro Hollywood Apartments represents how a housing development can be not just a place to live, but a means to create a place to thrive and sustain a community.”

William Harris, Executive Director, Hollywood Community Housing Corporation

Since 2004, Metro Hollywood has provided an affordable place to live in a community that is largely lower income but extremely rich in cultural diversity. Less than two square miles in size, East Hollywood is home to Little Armenia and the country’s only Thai Town, along with many Latin American, Asian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern residents and businesses.

Gina Voskanian, who emigrated from Armenia in 1989, has always lived in East Hollywood with her husband and two sons. Watching Metro Hollywood being built from her family’s crowded, older apartment two blocks away, she longed to move there. “My eye was on this building since they started construction,” she says. “I desperately wanted to have a unit here, and my dream came true.” Separate bedrooms for each of her sons, now 19 and 26, are key to Voskanian’s happiness with her 3-bedroom apartment. “Now everyone has privacy and I am happy,” she adds.

The impact of a well-planned mixed-use development like Metro Hollywood extends far beyond the people who live there. According to Alice Carr, Managing Director, Municipal Securities Division, Citi Community Capital, this project has revitalized the neighborhood, which used to be pretty grim. “These buildings sit on just one corner,” she says, “But they transform the larger area around them.”

Coming Soon to Metro Hollywood: A Public Market

According to William Harris, ED of HCC, “Metro Hollywood Apartments represents how a housing development can be not just a place to live, but a means to create a place to thrive and sustain a community.” To that end, the Thai Community Development Center is creating a new public market at Metro Hollywood selling ethnic foods and artisan crafts that reflect the cultural mix of the community.

“This is the ideal site,” says Chanchanit Martorell, Thai CDC’s Executive Director. “It’s the gateway to Thai Town, right on top of the Metro. What better way to encourage public life and pedestrian activity?”

Once up and running as a retail operation and business incubator for immigrant entrepreneurs, the market is expected to create new opportunities for up to 18 start-up businesses and generate 38 permanent, retail-oriented jobs.

Planners see a bright future for the Metro Hollywood neighborhood as a destination for cultural tourism. “The market is part of a broader vision,” says Martorell. “East Hollywood has historically been the neglected step-child of Hollywood, but the ethnic communities –Thais, Armenians, Latinos–have made it thrive. Now cultural tourism can be a vehicle for long-term economic development.”