The Jordan Downs redevelopment project in Watts is in the running for a $6.5 million state grant, Housing Authority officials announced Friday.

Councilman Joe Buscaino. Photo by John Schreiber.
The proposed award will be taken up Thursday by the state’s Strategic Growth Council, and would come out of this fall’s $30 million “Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program.”

The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles wants to use the grant to cover gap financing for the first phase of the $700 million Jordan Downs redevelopment, which would eventually cover about 70 acres and include commercial and housing projects.

The first phase includes 250 units of affordable housing, 100,000 square feet of retail space and transit connection improvements. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016.

“The Jordan Downs redevelopment project is more than just a brick-and-mortar project,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino.

Buscaino, whose district includes Watts, said the project will “transform” the area “into a more thriving community with economic opportunities, access to enhanced educational and social resources.”

“In order for the transformation of Jordan Downs to become a reality, grants like this one are necessary to close critical financing gaps,” Buscaino said. ” I would like to thank the Strategic Growth Council which waived the $15 million local jurisdiction cap, making more funding available for Jordan Downs.”

HACLA President Douglas Guthrie said the agency is “pleased with the consideration of this grant, but what’s more, we know that the residents are eagerly awaiting partnerships such as this that will help make this project a reality.”

The news comes after the project recently lost out twice on federal funding. Over the summer, the project was rejected, for the second consecutive year, for a $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant, which would cover land purchasing and construction.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official Dominique Blom wrote in a rejection letter addressed to Mayor Eric Garcetti and local public housing officials that the grant application failed to meet “all threshold requirements” for the Choice Neighborhoods fund, “and thus, was not rated.”

Blom wrote that the application submitted by HACLA failed to meet two requirements, one of which was that it was missing a required commitment letter from the city of Los Angeles, a co-applicant with HACLA.

Blom said the Jordan Downs grant application was also taken out of the running because a “co-applicant” still had “outstanding civil rights matters” that HUD deemed unresolved as of the grant’s Feb. 9, 2015, application deadline.

The civil rights matters, which were not identified, stemmed from a “letter of findings identifying systemic noncompliance” with provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Housing and Community Development Act or the American with Disabilities Act, according to the letter.

Buscaino at the time put the blame on leadership at HACLA, calling for Guthrie to be replaced.

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan told City News Service the “competition was extremely stiff” for this year’s Choice Neighborhoods grant program. The department received 33 applications and only 14 met the minimum requirements, out of which nine were named finalists and will be competing for the $80 million allotted to the grant program this year, Sullivan said.

— City News Service

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