A proposal to redevelop a pair of Arts District sites occupied by the Department of Public Social Services has encountered an unexpected roadblock, and now Los Angeles County is moving to solicit additional bids for the properties.

In 2019, the County voted to enter into exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA) with Los Angeles-based Urban Offerings for the redevelopment of the two properties, a small office building and parking structure located at 321 S. Hewitt Street and 813 E. 4th Place.  The project envisioned at the time would have included:

  • 43,000 square feet of office space for DPSS;
  • 232,000 square feet of speculative office space;
  • 19,000 square feet of artist affordable housing
  • 11,000 square feet of street-level retail space; and
  • approximately 870 parking stalls for use by County employees and the adjacent non-profit organization Art Share L.A.

Rendering of the now-canceled Urban Offerings developmentOfficeUntitled

The agreement between the developer and Los Angeles County was signed in February 2020, and subsequently extended by six months in August of that year.  However, according to a representative of developer Urban Offerings, the agreement was allowed to lapse in February 2021 due to compliance requirements, which means that the County can now solicit additional bids in compliance with the California Surplus Land Act (CSLA).

"Urban Offerings has dedicated years of time and money to this pursuit and we have a vested interest to ensure that the messaging is correct and fair," reads a statement released by the developer.  "We consistently honored the ENA terms with the County, but mutually agreed to allow it to lapse to avoid legal complications stemming from compliance with the CSLA down the road."

The Surplus Land Act, which took effect in January 2020, may result in a different pool of respondents to the new request for proposals.  The law requires that any local agency selling excess property to prioritize bids from entities that would develop community-serving uses such as affordable housing or park space.

In a vote taken yesterday, the County Board of Supervisors adopted a motion introduced by Chair Hilda Solis to declare the DPSS sites as excess properties under the Surplus Land Act, and issue a notice of availability to parties that may be interested in redeveloping the sites.

Urban Offerings has announced its intent to submit a proposal for the properties as part of the process.