An artists colony on border of Downtown and Vernon is poised to become a city of Los Angeles landmark, a designation that residents, who are facing steep rent increases, say could help keep the former industrial complex affordable.
The city’s cultural heritage commission voted unanimously today to make the Santa Fe Arts Colony a local landmark, recognizing it for its place in Los Angeles history as the city’s first publicly subsidized housing for artists. The decision will have to be approved by the City Council.
“Permanent historical protection will be a huge ‘win” for the Tenants’ Association’s goal to buy [the colony] and keep it affordable,” the association president, Sylvia Tidwell, wrote in an email to tenants. “If this happens, the owner will not be able to add density, build out the property or otherwise change it without strict city review—changes that could encourage the owner to sell.”
The association is trying to purchase the property from new owner, Miami-based Fifteen Group, which acquired the property last year. The real estate firm has hiked prices on the complex’s 15 market-rate units, and notified tenants in the 42 income-restricted units that it would raise rents as soon as old financing agreements that kept rents low expired November 1.
Last month, as she packed up the unit she shares with her husband, painter and installation artist Gina Han said their rent was set to more than double on November 1, from $977 to $1,980. She said they would struggle to pay that much, but she was unsure where they might go instead.
“This space has been really wonderful for both of us,” she said. “There are a lot of spaces, but if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t do any good.”