Equestrians Fear Encroachment by La Kretz Housing Project
ATWATER VILLAGE—Developers have plans to tear down a manufacturing plant next to North Atwater Park and in the midst of some 20 stables and horse properties to build 60 three-story homes, which has some local residents and equestrians fearing their district is in jeopardy.
The former wallpaper plant—which was built in 1951 and spans 3990 and 4000 Chevy Chase Avenue—is owned by the La Kretz Family. Morton La Kretz, the head of the family, is a real estate developer and philanthropist known for the restoration to historic status of the “Crossroads of the World” building in Hollywood and for donating $5 million for a proposed suspension bridge that will connect Atwater Village and Griffith Park for pedestrians, bicyclists and horse riders.
Those against the development say it is too big and dense for the neighborhood and will detract from its natural equestrian feel.
As such, they have formed a group called “Atwater Village Always” said they have gathered over 1,000 petition signatures to stop the development. They have also received the support of area representative Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.
“The community has responded with considerable opposition to the project as proposed,” said Tony Arranaga, a spokesperson for O’Farrell. “And the councilmember stands with the community.”
But a spokesperson for La Kretz, Daniel Tellalian, said the development will complement the area, not hurt it.
The project “improves the neighborhood aesthetic and replaces a nuisance site that currently stores port-a-potties and movie props bringing big rigs through the residential neighborhood,” he said.
Atwater Village Always member Jackie Sloan said she understands the needs of the developer, but not at the expense of the close-knit equestrian community.
“I would like to be able to sit with the developer and say, ‘I get it. You want to do something with this land,’” she said. “But can [any use of the property] stay equestrian [in nature] so that it doesn’t become that foothold for destroying the entire equestrian area?”
What Sloan and others would like to see is that the factory not be demolished for housing, but used instead in some fashion that could link it to nearby equestrian trails, that she said would better suit the surrounding 50 acres of equestrian properties that are home to about 500 horses along the Los Angeles River.
While Tellalian said La Kretz is sympathetic to local concerns, he said: “Our site is not a horse stable, never was a stable and is not zoned for horse-keeping,” he said.
Plans show clusters of townhomes with landscaping that would replace the industrial plant and preserve an existing bridle path on the site.
Those against the development also have applied for historic monument status for the industrial site which includes a factory, and a showroom they say are an example of Southern California Mid-Century Modern architecture designed by Edward Killingsworth, known for his work designing luxury hotels around the world and much of California State Long Beach’s campus.
For now, existing buildings on the property will remain standing. Last month, the city’s department of Building and Safety revoked a demolition permit that had been issued to the developer in 2014 that the city now says was issued in error.