The Los Angeles City Council has approved a long-term lease agreement with the Go For Broke National Education Center which sets the stage for a mixed-use affordable housing development in Little Tokyo.
Go For Broke, a non-profit which educates the public on the experience of Japanese American veterans during World War II, has for more than a decade sought to construct a permanent facility on the south side of Temple Street between Alameda and Judge John Aiso Streets. The .858-acre site, a city-owned parking lot, is located immediately north of the existing Go For Broke Monument and the Japanese American National Museum.
Though the organization's original agreement with the City of Los Angeles had lapsed, Go For Broke made an important breakthrough on the project last year, when it formed a partnership with Little Tokyo Service Center, another Japanese American non-profit. The new lease approved yesterday by the City Council paves the way for LTSC and Go For Broke to develop a five-story development featuring Go For Broke's permanent exhibit and affordable housing.
“We’re delighted with the passage of this lease,” said Go For Broke President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mitchell T. Maki in a statement. “It’s truly a win-win for the City of Los Angeles, Little Tokyo and GFBNEC. We will now be able to work on developing a permanent location for GFBNEC right next to our Monument, which will help to create an attractive, vibrant element of the First Street North area. We also will be building much-needed housing for the area, which will be located in the heart of Little Tokyo’s unique mix of historic and cultural institutions.”
The terms of the updated agreement grant Go For Broke a ground lease for the property through April 25, 2056, assuming the organization meets designated milestones for project development. Go For Broke and LTSC are required to submit plans to the City of Los Angeles within 36 months of the lease's execution, and the project budget is required to be at least $8.76 million.
“It was my distinct pleasure to lead the effort in garnering City Council support for this long-term lease,” Councilmember José Huizar said. "Go For Broke National Education Center pays tribute to Japanese American soldiers who in the face of extreme racism and prejudice showed our nation what true American Patriotism looks like. GFBNEC is going to be a profound addition to Little Tokyo, educating and engaging future generations about the many and distinct contributions Japanese Americans have made, and continue to make, to our City and Country.”
"This is exciting!” Takao Suzuki, LTSC’s Director of Community Economic Development, said. “With the amended ground lease in hand, we can now proceed with conducting the environmental due diligence for a much-needed mixed-use, transit-oriented affordable housing development on the historic block of Little Tokyo. Today's approval of the amended ground lease is a testament to the strength of our partnership with the City, community and Go For Broke National Education Center."
The parking lot on which Go For Broke and LTSC's proposed development will rise was once considered for the development of another long-delayed community asset for Little Tokyo: the Terasaki Budokan. The multi-purpose recreation and community center is now under construction on another city-owned property adjacent to the Little Tokyo Library.
Go For Broke is named for the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Army unit composed of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fighting primarily in the European Theatre, the 442nd would become the most decorated unit in the history of the United States military.