How to screw up a huge development project

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Word comes today from the Eastsider that the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council has just approved the Sunset Gateway project on the eastern edge of Echo Park.

Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of dense, in-fill development. And the part of Sunset on which this project is sited is particularly grim and in need of investment.

So, why am I worried about the project? Well, I’ve seen the insides of several of the mega projects that have gone up recently in Hollywood, and I’m concerned that Aragon Properties is going to screw up the interiors the same way those other developers did.

Here’s the deal: Rents in Silver Lake and Echo Park are high and rising. That’s why Aragon targeted this site in the first place. However, the type of tenants who are paying those high rents are doing so because they are attracted to a very specific kind of lifestyle which they believe is reflected in the neighborhoods and which they like to have reflected in their apartments. I know this because we cater to them in every development we do.

The interior design choices made in those projects (fake wood floors, yellow shag carpet in bedrooms, shiny black quartz counters with cheap stainless sinks, showers out of a 1990s hotel in Vegas, bad light fixtures, etc.) are not going to fly with the type of tenants who are paying up to live in Echo Park.

If Aragon does the same bad interior design job those other guys did, they may never know it, because rents and absorption may live up to their pro forma. So they may never know that they left a whole bunch of money on the table by doing a sub-optimal job on the design. But we’ll know.

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