Development

Traveling Among the Stars

A transit-oriented development brings new life to North Hollywood.

Transit-oriented developments are complex, multifaceted projects that involve many stakeholders ranging from investors to community groups to local and state governments. Like a Hollywood movie producer, a commercial real estate developer must be able to manage many different interests, groups, functions, and logistics to bring a star product to market.

In Los Angeles’ North Hollywood community, J.H. Snyder Co. successfully has created NoHo Commons, a $200 million TOD project that integrates a public transportation hub with a dynamic mix of housing and retail.

Project Details

The TOD concept offers the benefits of reduced traffic congestion, decreased environmental pollution, higher and more stable property values, and a generally higher quality of life. “We developed NoHo Commons as a model for a successful TOD,” says Jerome Snyder, the company’s senior partner. “We sought to combine pedestrian-friendly design, live-work spaces, and carefully selected retail to create a vibrant, coming-and-going, 24-hours-a-day synergy that is true to North Hollywood’s unique urban identity.”

Upon completion in spring 2006, NoHo Commons will include 438 apartment units, 278 residential loft units, 20,000 square feet of live-work space, and 60,000 sf of retail space.

Eighty percent of NoHo Commons’ retail portion already is leased. Anchor tenant HOWS Market has taken 32,000 sf and is scheduled to open in 2006 along with Wells Fargo Bank and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf among other tenants. “These and other carefully selected tenants support our vision of the urban village feel of this development, blended with transportation access and a variety of housing types,” says Clifford Goldstein, J.H. Snyder’s senior partner.

Site & Neighborhood

An ambitious example of a mixed-use development on an urban-infill site, NoHo Commons is located at the site of a Los Angeles Metro Rail Red Line station, which anchors its commercial core. The North Hollywood neighborhood, currently emerging from a state of neglect, has regained vitality as an eclectic arts, dining, and retail district with more than 30 theaters. Prior to the development vacant land, warehouses, and abandoned residential structures occupied the site.

NoHo Commons is expected to appeal to many local residents who work in the area’s entertainment industry and related fields. The project and its Metro station are within easy walking distance of the Academy of Television Arts, close to Universal Studios, and near Burbank, where Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., NBC, and ABC’s West Coast operations are headquartered.

The range of nearby transportation options is expanding with the opening of a new Metro Orange Line transit station adjacent to NoHo Commons. The new bus line covers 14 miles between North Hollywood and Woodland Hills, site of Warner Center, a major San Fernando Valley business and retail development.

“The Orange Line transit station further adds to the neighborhood ambience, with its terrazzo paving, colorful porcelain steel art panels, sculpted seating, and artist-influenced landscaping. The NoHo Commons project is a unique example in this area of urban excitement and entertainment-industry glamour,” Goldstein says.

rendering: J.H. Snyder Co.

Strategies

A significant TOD challenge is handling the complexity of such an integrated project. Real estate professionals must bring experience, skills, and a network of contacts on board to help see the project through. For example, from the outset the commercial real estate professionals involved in NoHo Commons formed a collaborative team that included the developer, Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency, the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the San Fernando Valley Jobs Coalition, and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. The collaborators crafted a community benefits program to ensure that low-income individuals and local businesses in the San Fernando Valley community will benefit from NoHo Commons’ development through job training programs and contributions toward a community clinic and day-care center.

Financing for public/private projects is inherently complicated, requiring alignment of the public policy interests of multiple government agencies with the unique investment characteristics of the capital markets and the interests of the developer. J.H. Snyder developed NoHo Commons in cooperation with the Community Redevelopment Agency as well as various private and public sources, including $14 million from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Clifford P. Goldstein

Clifford P. Goldstein is a senior partner at J.H. Snyder Co. in Los Angeles. Contact him at (323) 857-7042 or cgoldstein@jhsnyder.net.

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