The Los Angeles City Council voted yesterday to initiate proceedings that would see that a vacant lot near USC sold to a local development firm that hopes to build a hotel on the property.
The approximately 33,000-square-foot site, formerly home to the Bethune Library, is located at 3685 S. Vermont Avenue. A report from the Economic & Workforce Development Department recommended that the City of Los Angeles, after acquiring the property from CRA/LA, should sell it an entity controlled by Orion Capital, which plans to build a Courtyard Marriott hotel featuring 167 guest rooms and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The City of Los Angeles had previously considered the Bethune Library property as an opportunity site for affordable housing in Exposition Park, and had even gone as far as soliciting developers for the project. In February 2017, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote that the promise of affordable housing on the library property would have been blocked by Measure S, a ballot initiative sponsored by opponents of large developments.
Measure S failed at the ballot box in March 2017, and the City's request for proposals yielded a response from an entity called NCNVision, LLC - a partnership between National CORE and Nvision Development Group - which planned an apartment complex featuring 52 units of market-rate housing, 45 units of workforce housing, 17 units of affordable housing, ground-floor retail space, and space to be occupied by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. The City Council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with NCNVision in May 2018, which was later canceled for unspecified reasons, according to a representative of the project team.
The report from the EWDD to the City Council recommending a sale of the property to Orion Capital makes no reference to the prior request for proposals, nor the canceled agreement with NCNVision. A representative of the Department stated that the prior exclusive negotiating term expired without an agreement being reached.