architecture blog

Modative Architecture Provides Stimulus Package

Posted by Christian Navar on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 @ 06:11 AM

Modative Fay Ave 2 Unit

Spent too much on land?

For years in our industry I used to hear how architects know close to nothing when it comes to staying on budget, that overspending is commonplace for most designers. With the severe downturn in the real estate industry it seems like architects finally aren’t the only ones who can be accused of overspending!

Like many Los Angeles architecture firms, many of our prize projects have been scrapped in the last couple of years. Our projects became victims of overspending, and this time, you can’t blame the architect for over-designing, ignoring budgets and having cost overruns.

These days it is now clear that spending too much on land and planning oversized projects has become the real project killer.

So, you bought too high you say? Now what?

So, you bought a property at the height of the building boom and now your budget numbers don’t  look so good and you need to put the project on hold? Hmm, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that in the last year, Modative could bail us all out of this crisis.

Being designers, we of course naturally believe that you can design your way out of anything. Here at Modative, we believe that if the government hired more designers, or real problem solvers, we would need less “financial experts” and definitely less slow-moving bureaucrats. If you think members of the Obama Administration are the only ones offering bailouts these days, you should check out our new 2-unit small lot subdivision “stimulus package”.

Modative’s stimulus package

The project site is currently vacant land that sits between two other lots that combined were once part of a 7-unit small lot subdivision project on Fay Avenue in Los Angeles. After the economy crashed, the project was placed on hold, and our client found themselves with an overpriced and underutilized piece of dirt.

Fay Avenue Property

In classic boomtown fashion, the original project consisted of seven luxury three-story units that were slated to be between 1,750 and 1,900 square feet each. After the bust, the client asked us to reevaluate the site, specifically the vacant dirt lot, and propose a simple, cost-effective solution that would bring added value to this property which wasn’t generating any income.

Creative solutions can revive a project

This isn’t our only revisited post-downturn, multi-unit housing project currently on the boards. In fact many of our recent projects have come to us as previously-approved condominium projects designed by other firms. Aside from being asked to turn defunct condominium projects into small lot subdivisions, we hear the same thing over and over, how small can we make a residential unit and still have it be marketable?

In the case of the Fay Avenue project, we proposed starting out with just two very simple two-story, 1,000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath units that could be offered at a price point more favorable in the current marketplace. We then devised a creative phasing option, placing the proposed units on the site so that the owner could utilize the other two lots as part of a future phased expansion, that in the end will total 7 units. In the meantime, they could continue to rent the units on the other lots and wait for the economy and the current lending situation to improve. We have always believed in smaller units, but now, with the current state of the economy, we can finally get people to believe that bigger isn’t always better.

 

small lot subdivision phasing diagram

 

We were proud of our original 7-unit project, but sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. In the meantime, we’ll continue to take pride in knowing that our redesigned 2-unit “stimulus package” will help provide an added income stream for our client.

An architecture professor of ours from USC once said, “I am teaching you how to solve problems, not so you will become good architects, but so you will become great politicians.” Well with the current unemployment rate in California hovering somewhere around 12.4%, anything Modative can do to be part of the solution is something to be proud of.

“The first phase of the Fay Avenue project is slated to begin construction in the Spring of 2011. The Obama administration is still running some calculations to determine the exact number of jobs this project will add once construction begins, but thanks to Modative, we are pretty sure not only will this project be beneficial to job creation, but maybe, just maybe, it will even help stimulate small businesses lending again!” - Unknown Politician

We plan to post project updates on our website regarding this project, so if you’re interested, continue to check back for more info.

Fay Avenue Property Rear

Contributors to this post include Derek Leavitt, AIA, Michael Scott and Krystal Návar.

Tags: Property, Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, small homes, home size

Modative Architecture Wins Homeless Housing Development Competition

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 @ 14:06 PM

If you've been following along with us here over the last few weeks, you've surely noticed that we've been bashing open architecture competitions and even suggesting alternatives to these time wasters.

So you may find it a bit hypocritical that today I'm announcing that we won a competition. That is, until you note the following differences between this competition and a typical open architecture competition.

Not Just an Architecture Competition

The competition we entered was through the Urban Land Institute (ULI)  to develop housing for the chronically homeless. As I posted back in April, it was a team development competition consisting of other young real estate and social work professionals. Architecture was only a piece of the proposal. Our team had to find a property, create a program, design a project, determine the services offered, and develop a detailed pro forma of how the project would be financed. The process simulated a real project compressed into six weeks.

homeless housing los angelesThe site we selected in Glendale.

 

The Competition Wasn't Open

Our team had to apply in order to get accepted to participate. There were only five teams competing.

homeless housing glendale ca

We even got to make our own cool logo. We were called Team HETED (Homeless Empowerment Through Efficient Development)

 

Collaboration

Each team was assigned a city to work with in Los Angeles County: Pasadena, Whittier, East Dominguez Hills, Long Beach and our sponsor city, Glendale. We also worked closely with homeless non-profit advocates and developers, Path Achieve Glendale and Path Ventures. The city and these organizations acted like our clients. By working with them we got to make real connections. Connections that could lead to future work.

homeless housing bungalows los angeles

The project concept is a hybrid of preservation of 1920's bungalows and modern intervention of adding new elements to bring the project up to code and provide services for the residents.

 

Team Aspect

Our team really enjoyed working with each other on this. I think we will collaborate again on future projects.

Exposure

The Urban Land Institute is a diverse organization. It reaches all types of real estate professionals. We prefer this type of exposure over showcasing our work to a bunch of fellow architects.

homeless housing competition win

 

Pro Bono

This competition was our launch into pro bono work. We spent 130 hours working on this competition. This gives us a real gauge as to the level of commitment required to do future pro bono projects. We already have an idea for our next pro bono project. It won't be through a competition.

permanent supportive housing

Overall view of the project

 

Whether or not you buy our arguments for entering this competition, I encourage you to check out our winning proposal. You can also view our online press release.

 

What do you think of our proposal?

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Affordable Housing, Architecture Experience, Architecture portfolio, Housing, Architecture Competitions, Homeless Housing

Small Lot Subdivision Info

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jan 8, 2009 @ 09:01 AM

We have recently added a few pages of dedicated Small Lot Subdivision Information to our site.

Small Lot Subdivision is an ordinance in the City of Los Angeles that allows you to subdivide lots into small residential parcels (as small as 600 sq. ft.) for the purposes of devloping fee simple housing (meaning you own the land your home sits on verses a condo where it is tied into a home owners association.)

The new Small Lot Subdivision section also shows the small lot projects our office is working on.

If you have any questions about Small Lot Subdivision, please don't hesitate to contact Modative. The code is a bit tricky and we feel that we have learned a lot about its intricacies by going through the process on a few projects.

Tags: Innovation, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision, Housing

Fay Ave. Small Lot Project - First Look

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Aug 6, 2008 @ 11:08 AM

After months of design and tract submittal preparation, here is a glimpse of our latest small lot subdivision project here in Los Angeles. This project, called the Fay Avenue Art District Dwellings, is only two blocks away from our Venice Boulevard small lot project. This design for these seven homes is inspired by the growing art district in the area.



Fay Ave. Art District Dwellings is currently in design development and will be posted to the website in the coming months with more images.

Tags: Residential, Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision

Modative to Start 4th Small Lot Project

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Jan 16, 2008 @ 07:01 AM

This week Modative begins work on our fourth small lot subdivision project in Los Angeles. The details of this new project will be released in the next month or so. The following is a list of our small lot subdivision experience to date:
-



1. Project Name: Dunsmuir Ave. Development
# of Units: 3-4
Status: Feasibility Study Only - complete 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------


2. Project Name: Lemp Ave. Development
# of Units: 4
Status: Feasibility Study Only - complete 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------


3. Project Name: Venice Blvd. Development
# of Units: 6
Status: In Design Development & Subdivision Process - Ongoing

--------------------------------------------------------------


4. Project Name: New Small Lot Subdivision Project
(Can't release more info...yet)
# of Units: 7-9
Status: Just getting started...

--------------------------------------------------------------

For those wondering what Small lot Subdivision is, I have reposted some info on this (relatively) new Los Angeles Ordinance below.

Tags: Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision

Small Lot Subdivision in L.A.

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Jan 16, 2008 @ 07:01 AM

This post is a repeat of a post from our old news page on 12.03.07.

Los Angeles has a housing shortage. More specifically it has a shortage of affordable housing. During the latest housing boom, housing prices rose at a dramatic rate, putting home ownership within Los Angeles out of reach for many.

To address these and other housing issues, the city of Los Angeles implemented the Small Lot Ordinance in January of 2005. This innovative ordinance allows developers to subdivide land into smaller lots then previously permitted, providing new types of (fee simple) ownership housing for LA.

At Modative we are dedicated to developing an expertise on this new type of development. We developed the following chart outlining the benefits of this code.

-

Tags: Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision

My Brother in The New York Times

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jan 10, 2008 @ 08:01 AM


My brother, the developer (Grant) is in the New York Times today. The photo above is from the article.

See Article Here

Lorcan O’Herlihy (Architect) and Richard Loring (Developer/Builder) did a nice job with this project; another example that there is still quite a market for modern multi-family housing in Los Angeles.

-

My brother/Pacific Beacon Properties, LLC and Modative are currently developing/designing a six-unit housing project on Venice Boulevard here in Los Angeles utilizing the new small-lot subdivision ordinance. Even with the current housing slow down, we are enthusiastic about the future of these type of developments.

Tags: Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Condos, Modern Design