When Los Angeles city officials announced a plan to demolish and redevelop the historic Wyvernwood Apartments of Boyle Heights into a space featuring a mixture of homes, stores, and offices in 2007, a debate was sparked. Would redeveloping the apartments benefit the local community? Proponents argue that the redevelopment would reel in necessary jobs to the community and enhance the lives of its residents with improved security and green spaces, while opponents argue that the apartment complex is a part of L.A.’s history and should be preserved. Now that city officials want to demolish Wyvernwood Apartments, the future of the L.A. complex is at stake.
The apartment complex was built in 1939 to mirror the Garden City Movement in the United Kingdom, which emphasized communities built with a combination of town and country elements. One of the first of several garden complexes in L.A., the Wyvernwood Apartments were designed to provide middle-income workers with spacious and clean housing away from the pollution of central Los Angeles. Spanning a total of 70 acres, the 143 minimalist apartment buildings are surrounded by park-like spaces that provide a contrast to the dense and noisy atmosphere of Los Angeles’ core. The buildings are also built with low roofs to allow natural light and fresh air, while retaining residents’ privacy.
The rebuilt Wyvernwood complex is expected to replace the 1,187 units of rental housing with “4,400 residential units comprised of no less than 1,200 rental units and up to 3,200 condominium units.” The units will be used as retail, office, and civic spaces. For residents that currently occupy the complex, the owner, Fifteen Group Land and Development LLC, claims that residents will not be displaced. Rents will not increase and current residents will be able to get first choice on the new apartments. Even if residents leave, the Los Angeles Housing Department will provide maximum relocation costs. The construction is comprised of five phases; the first phase starts in 2017 and the last phase is expected to be completed by 2030. Approximately 24 acres of the new Wyvernwood will be open green space and 18 acres will be reserved for greenscape and public yard areas.
Both sides of the issue have demonstrated very passionate arguments for what they believe is best for their community. Those in opposition of the redevelopment of Wyvernwood include its residents and the Los Angeles Conservancy. They claim that Wyvernwood’s garden-apartment design has brought historical significance and a sense of community to many people in Boyle Heights. Thus, demolishing Wyvernwood and rebuilding it would be a great loss to its residents. Meanwhile, supporters of the redevelopment of Wyvernwood include its owner and several local organizations. They claim that reconstructing Wyvernwood would bring more jobs and tourists to the area, while improving the lives of its residents for generations. The project is expected to bring 10,000 construction jobs, in addition to 3,000 permanent jobs in retail for Boyle Heights.
Should the Wyvernwood apartment complex be demolished and redeveloped? Are there any buildings in your area that you feel should remain preserved? Share your thoughts and your city’s stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Sophia Huynh.