Orange Line may give green light to more housing

first_imgThere is a good chance that the Orange Line, which opened on Saturday, will help increase the amount of multifamily housing units in the San Fernando Valley. This is not a route to tangential reasoning, either. It’s a concept that’s already got the attention of two big developers, John Laing Homes and KB Home. Both have added urban divisions to their companies, the latest being KB Home. And Bruce Karatz, KB Home’s chairman and chief executive officer, had a one-word response when asked last week whether the Orange Line was a factor in the decision to enter the urban market in Southern California: “Absolutely.” “There is no question that people who live in buildings are very much influenced by public transportation availability,” he said. In most places. Did here once, too. They were the Red Cars, which took folks from over the hill across the Valley via train tracks along Sherman Way. They’ve been gone for more than half a century, now, which feels like forever. Karatz sees a pretty good imitation in the Orange Line. It hooks up with the Red Line subway and now the West Valley is no longer disconnected from downtown Los Angeles. That’s not lost on Karatz. And KB Home is no novice at multifamily housing, having built and sold similar projects across France for 20 years. “We understand the importance of transportation,” he said. “The first thing we look for when looking at a building site is how many steps it is to the metro.” The company is already working on one deal in Warner Center, near the Orange Line’s Western terminus. “In the future you have to have access to some type of rapid transit, be it a busway, a Metro Link or a Metro Rail,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Of course a building boom won’t happen overnight. Or over many nights. But Daniel Blake, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge, believes it’s likely that the Orange Line will be a magnet for housing. “What this route could do, because it was done in the day of the Red Cars, is attract the more dense development into convenient areas along the route,” he said. It could become a symbiotic relationship. The line creating a demand for multifamily mixed use housing and the housing bringing focus to the line. Blake notes this has happened in other cities – think New York and Chicago – but the transportation corridor has to be around for a while to attract the housing. There could be an added benefit, too. What open space is left away from the transit corridor might not be as attractive to developers now. And since the line passes by apartments and condominiums, there might not be the kind of opposition that usually surfaces when high density development is proposed. “It does provide the Valley with an alternative lifestyle, one where you use mass transit to access jobs in Warner Center, North Hollywood or Studio City,” Blake said. Maybe the Orange Line will end up being an idea that goes somewhere. Like home. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more