Business Journal homes in on a dozen residential developers who, surprise, are building in the L.A. market.
John M. Huskey, 62
Meta Housing Corp., West Los Angeles
Huskey has been a trailblazer, working on affordable housing since 1969, and developing more than 12,000 affordable and market-rate residential units. The Brentwood resident founded Meta Housing in 1993, and is building housing with programs and amenities intended to create better functioning communities. The company was even the subject of a study on senior housing at USC, which ultimately helped him to refine his ideas. Meta’s latest project is in Long Beach, and will feature 360 units, a community theater and pocket park.
Reason I’m a Residential Developer: The first 17 years I wanted to produce housing that encouraged less dependence on the automobile. In recent years I like to create projects that help people change their lives.
If I Weren’t a Residential Developer I’d Be: Difficult to say; transportation planner or educator.
Most Challenging Development: The Piedmont Apartments and the Burbank Senior Artist Colony.
Best Career Moment: (Same as above.) They were the first applications of the lessons learned from the USC-Century Housing study of our methods. This was a study on the impact of programs of ours that were more like adult education than arts and crafts. Instead of treating our seniors like they were in kindergarten, what would happen if we treated them like they were starting a new phase of their life?
Worst: The early 1990s. I was broke. We were building two projects and the syndicator went bankrupt halfway through the money raise and the construction lender wanted to be taken out immediately.
Favorite Project I Didn’t Develop: The new Catholic Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Best Thing About Developing in L.A. County: The people that support housing are incredibly courageous. We have been in some pretty tough NIMBY battles where the elected officials could have taken refuge in gray areas of historic issues and avoided the difficult task of approving unpopular low-income family housing. In one case, an L.A. city councilman and I were threatened over the project. He stood by us and the project.
Worst: The state of California’s fiscal crisis and the unpredictable consequences upon local government.
The Developer I’d Be If I Weren’t Me: I have tried so hard in my life to genuinely be myself that I cannot imagine being otherwise.
Bucket List: Travel, projects with my grandchildren, learn two foreign languages, achieve equanimity in the face of state and national politics.
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