An unoccupied five-acre lot in the Baldwin Village neighborhood may be home to a new Costco with 800 apartment units situated above the store, according to a January press release by private-owned real estate developer Thrive Living.
Nearly a quarter of this development’s total units — 184 apartments — will be dedicated to low-income households. The apartments will also aim to market to senior residents.
Affordable and workforce housing will be eligible for Angelenos with Section 8 vouchers from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), as stated in the press release.
The HACLA’s Section 8 program, which “provides rent subsidies to private landlords on behalf of very low-income families/individuals, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities” is financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This mixed-use location, referred to as the “5035 Coliseum Plan” by Thrive Living, is near the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Coliseum Street, with proximity to the Metro E Line (Expo) station at Exposition and La Brea.
“Mayor Bass has declared a housing emergency in Los Angeles, and we’re answering the call,” said Jordan Brill of Thrive Living in a written statement.
On Bass’ first day with the mayoral title in December, she announced homelessness as a state of emergency in Los Angeles. In 2022, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated that there were 69,144 unhoused individuals in L.A. County, a 4.1% rise from 2020.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in L.A. is $2,225 as of this month, according to Apartments.com. As defined by the HACLA, those who classify as low-income make 80% of area median income. For a two-person household, this is $76,250 a year.
Most L.A. apartments require that tenants make a minimum of three times their monthly rent, which leaves many low-income households below the earning requirement after income tax.
According to Thrive Living, the company acquires strategically located, underutilized properties in urban markets that are experiencing significant housing affordability gaps.
They estimate 400 new jobs will be created in partnership with Costco through a local hire and job training program for residents of Baldwin Village and neighboring communities.
“I think it would be great for bringing jobs to the community as well as additional shopping opportunities with vast resources,” said Paula Brown, an assistant property manager at a nearby apartment community. “I love [Costco]. I have to pace myself when I go there. I love the prices, what they have to offer, the inventory, the gas — I love all of it, the whole experience.”
This Costco location will provide fresh produce options for residents and plans to offer optical services, a pharmacy and delivery services to support the needs of local businesses.
“Usually it has been the case that when you have a destination shopping area like a Costco, that the immediately adjacent businesses are benefited because people might go to the Costco and then they might go to, you know, a place to eat, or the dentist, whatever the case may be,” Gary Painter, a professor from USC Price School of Public Policy, said.
CJ’s Cafe, a restaurant on South La Brea Avenue neighboring the development’s pending location, hopes to benefit from the increased consumer traffic in the area should the Costco complex be built.
“I think we’ll have more customers. Everyone likes to shop at Costco, and people get hungry after that,” CJ’s Cafe manager Jesse Cisneros said. “And not everyone wants a hot dog. So, they’ll probably make their way down here.”
With 75% housing and 25% retail operations near public transport, L.A.’s Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentive Program classifies the mixed-use development as a Tier 3 project. This allots for more overall space than standard zoning rules.
Various amenities for the Coliseum Street location are listed on the company’s property description. These include five central interior courtyards and a landscaped walking path, a rooftop pool, a full basketball court and community gardens for residents to grow their own food.
Valery Augustin of DNA Architecture + Design Inc. in L.A. expressed that the lure of these amenities is two-fold: they are “vital to creating community” for the residents, but they are also essential from a marketing standpoint for a greater return on investment.
“Twenty-three percent of the units are low-income, which means the rest are all near market rate. And the amount of money that they’re putting into this project, I bet you market rate is going to be pretty expensive,” Augustin said. “It’ll price out a large group of people. And with that comes a desire for certain amenities. The building owner sees that, ‘Hey, we have people with higher disposable income,’ I’m going to jack up the rent. And it can become a whole cycle.”
Thrive Living’s New York based owner, Magnum Real Estate Group, also purchased the Baldwin Hills Shopping Center for $37.3 million in 2022. This property is less than a mile away from the proposed Costco development, and is anchored by a large Ralph’s supermarket.
A full application is expected to be filed soon to the City of Los Angeles by the Thrive project team. Thrive Living is currently positioned to invest more than $1 billion in workforce housing in Los Angeles.