Had for a Song: Resident Daniel Tyler Pohnke at Meta Housing’s new affordable-housing project in San Pedro.

Had for a Song: Resident Daniel Tyler Pohnke at Meta Housing’s new affordable-housing project in San Pedro. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

It happened in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It happened in downtown Los Angeles. Maybe it can happen in San Pedro.

The arrival of artists to a neighborhood has long been viewed by real estate professionals as a harbinger of development.

Which is why the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency threw its support behind West L.A. affordable housing developer Meta Housing Corp.’s 48-unit project in central San Pedro, billed as an artists colony. It’s for low-income creative types, and it comes complete with a communal art gallery, two shared art studios and a soundproof room for musicians. The project is only six units shy of being fully occupied, even though parts of it are still under construction.

An agreement with the CRA’s successor, the now-also-shuttered Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, ensured the development will be designated for affordable housing for 55 years. It was the last development in San Pedro to receive that designation and funding, said James Preston Allen, president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

“Without CRA/L.A. stimulus money, (San Pedro) is sort of left without a development tool, which makes the finishing of this piece critical,” Allen said.

The $20 million, 37,800-square-foot development at 303 S. Pacific Ave., dubbed the Pacific Avenue Arts Colony, sits on a largely blighted strip just outside of the San Pedro Arts, Culture and Entertainment (Space) District. Meta purchased the two parcels that house the project for a combined $2.25 million two years ago, one from the CRA, the other from a private seller.

The developer has built 57 affordable housing projects, including 27 in Los Angeles, and has eight projects under construction and six in predevelopment.

Meta’s president, Kasey Burke, said the company earns its money through fees built into the funding it receives.

To fund construction, Meta received federal low-income housing tax credits, a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal tax liability, which it then sold to Bank of America for $13 million, a common practice among developers of low-income housing. The rest of the construction was funded by a $3.4 million loan from CRA/LA; a $3 million loan from California Community Reinvestment Corp.; and a grant from the San Francisco Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program, which covered the balance, Burke said.

Rents at the project range from $474 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,272 for a three-bedroom. To be eligible, individuals or families must earn between 30 percent and 60 percent of the L.A.-area median income, which is $63,000 for a family, according to 2015 data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rents are tied to where one falls in that scale – a one-bedroom unit for someone earning at the lower end would rent for less than it would for someone earning more.


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