Jordan Downs Revitalization Breaks Ground

Date Posted: 06.02.2017

Jordan Downs, a 1940s and 50s-era public housing development in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, will achieve a major milestone on Monday, June 5th, with the ceremonial groundbreaking of the first phase of new residential construction. The program and ceremony will take place from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at E. 99th Place and Laurel.

Phase 1A, developed by nonprofit BRIDGE Housing, will consist of 115 affordable rental apartments in 12 buildings on 3.15 acres. Designed to a LEED for Homes Silver certification level, the property will maximize solar opportunities, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, and will have an on-site management office along with community spaces such as a kitchen, lounge and computer room.

Neighborhood Transformation
In 2008, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), in conjunction with residents and a broad spectrum of stakeholders, initiated a plan to rebuild Jordan Downs into a mixed-use, mixed-income community—a vibrant urban village that will serve as a national model for the renewal of public housing. The distressed, 700-unit development was an extreme example of the social pathologies, crime and public health issues associated with large, isolated, decrepit public housing projects that had been continuously occupied since they were hastily constructed for wartime need. After a national search, Daniel Solomon Design Partners (prior to the merger with Mithun) was selected to prepare the master plan for reconstruction, lead an extensive community design process and secure the necessary entitlements.

The community-driven master plan transforms this troubled place into a safe, welcoming and connected neighborhood that integrates public housing and other affordable housing with market rate homes, new neighborhood retail, employment opportunities, streets and parks. Now with a central park and community building at its heart, the plan’s grid of streets and small blocks reconnects Jordan Downs with the surrounding neighborhood. The master plan is LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND) Silver certified.

Each phase of the 1,375-unit master plan includes four components: social services, new public open space, employment and new homes. A complex phasing plan permits on-site relocation of all existing public housing residents without displacement, an issue of primary importance to most residents due to lethal gang rivalries with other public housing projects and the deep bonds of community felt by many residents.

A Collaborative Effort
We are honored to be working with HACLA and the development team of BRIDGE Housing and The Michaels Organization to execute the project. Mithun/Solomon is continuing in the role of master planners as the plan evolves, and as design lead and associated architects for Phase 1 implementation, which totals 250 units of housing. SVA Architects is the architect-of-record for this first phase.

The architecture and landscape now in progress will transform the grim environment of Jordan Downs into a new community in the spirit of Southern California’s most livable urban places.