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Joint Development – Vermont/Santa Monica Station

The Vermont/Santa Monica Red Line Station opened in 1999 and connects patrons between North Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. The station site is about an acre in size and includes a public plaza, the station entrance, and vacant lots currently used for parking. The station’s close proximity to Los Angeles Community College, major commercial corridors along Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, and the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center make it a busy terminus, attracting over 4,000 riders a day.

Realizing the Vermont/Santa Monica Station properties are located in a highly desirable area for infill development, a study was conducted in December 2015 to determine the feasibility of development on the Metro-owned parcels at the station. The analysis concluded that, due to the constraints of the irregularly shaped parcels and location of the station’s portal and plaza, the only potentially feasible development scenario would be limited to a small single-story 20,000 square foot shopping center with 37 surface parking spaces.

While technically feasible, this scenario with solely the Metro-owned parcels was not deemed to be the highest and best use for this high traffic urban corridor and staff decided to not actively pursue joint development of the site at that time.

In January 2017, Metro received an Unsolicited Joint Development Proposal from Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) Community Development Corporation, which proposed development of the Metro-owned properties and adjacent privately-owned properties. After completing a two-phased review of the proposal in accordance with Metro’s Joint Development Unsolicited Proposal Policy , Metro decided to move forward with LTSC’s proposal.

In March 2018, the Metro Board of Directors approved entering into an 18-month Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with LTSC. Additional details on the process can be found in the Board Report .

Proposed Development

LTSC’s proposal includes the Metro-owned properties at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station, as well as about half an acre of adjacent LTSC-owned properties. The addition of these properties creates a more regular street-to-street lot suitable for mixed-use development. LTSC’s current proposal contemplates approximately 190 affordable residential units for low-income households, with approximately half of those units reserved for families and individuals with special needs. The development proposal also includes approximately 20,000 square feet of ground floor retail and on-site supportive services for residents. Overall, the proposed development offers opportunities to make improvements to the Metro plaza, enhance the pedestrian experience and improve transit connectivity.


On March 22, 2018 the Metro Board of Directors approved entering into an 18-month Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) to explore joint development at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station. The ENA period allows Metro and LTSC to further refine the proposed project and advance the development process.

During this time, LTSC is conducting community outreach to gather community input on the project. Sign up for our mailing list to receive project updates and notices on upcoming opportunities to get involved. Please share your comments .

During the ENA phase, Metro and LTSC will also begin negotiating the financial terms of the project, with the goal of returning to the Metro Board in 2020 for approval to enter into a Joint Development Agreement and any other agreements necessary to complete the project. Additional details on the proposed project and the development process can be found in the full Metro Board Report .


Why Joint Development? Why my community?

The Metro Joint Development Program is a real estate management and development program for properties owned by Metro within Metro’s Transit Oriented Communities Department. Transit-oriented communities (TOCs) create land use planning and community development policies that maximize access to transportation as a key organizing principle. TOCs promote equity and sustainable living by offering a mix of uses (e.g. housing, jobs, shopping, services) close to transit to support households at all income levels, as well as building densities, parking policies, urban design elements and first/last mile facilities that promote ridership and reduce auto dependency.

Metro’s Joint Development sites are a gateway to the Metro transit system and hold unique potential for shaping the built environment surrounding transit stations, which can have a significant impact on rider experience, attraction of new riders, and the urban form in LA County.

Realizing the Vermont/Santa Monica Station properties are located in a highly desirable area for infill development, a study was conducted in December 2015 to determine the feasibility of development on the Metro-owned parcels at the station. The analysis concluded that, due to the constraints of the irregularly shaped parcels and location of the station’s portal and plaza, the only potentially feasible development scenario would be limited to a small single-story 20,000 square foot shopping center with 37 surface parking spaces.

While technically feasible, this scenario with solely the Metro-owned parcels was not deemed to be the highest and best use for this high traffic urban corridor and staff decided to not actively pursue joint development of the site at that time.

The Unsolicited Proposal submitted by LTSC presents a unique opportunity to redevelop the Metro-owned property at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station, which will provide improvements to the station plaza, enhance public safety and add affordable housing units to the local community. The proposal also includes enhancements to pedestrian amenities such as improvements to bus shelters and streetscapes, as well as sustainable features such as bike storage and electric vehicle charging stations.

How can I get involved?

Metro is committed to keeping the community up-to-date throughout the Joint Development process by thoroughly engaging community stakeholders, including residents, community organizations, businesses and property owners, governmental agencies, and religious, educational and cultural institutions. The Exclusive Negotiation Agreement signed by the developer LTSC also ensures a commitment from the development team to conduct ongoing community engagement as the project design evolves. We highly encourage community members to stay involved in this process, as this allows the developer to continue to gather, discuss and incorporate community comments and aspirations regarding project specifics. To receive project updates and notices for upcoming opportunities to get involved sign up for our mailing list .

Metro welcomes project-specific feedback and encourages community members to review information related to this project. Questions and comments regarding involvement opportunities throughout this process may be submitted using our comment form .

How do Joint Development Unsolicited Proposals differ from a Joint Development Formal Request for Proposals (RFP)?

A Joint Development unsolicited proposal is a proposal submitted to Metro by a developer that is not in response to a formal Metro-issued Request for Proposals (RFP), and seeks the right to develop or improve a Metro-owned property. In February 2016, Metro released the Joint Development Unsolicited Proposals Policy to provide instructions for the submission and evaluation of unsolicited proposals.

With the region experiencing favorable conditions in the real estate market, and the private sector recognizing the value of building near transit, Metro anticipates they will receive additional Joint Development unsolicited proposals for other Metro-owned properties.

What is affordable housing? What will the rents be? How do I get an apartment?

Affordable housing refers to housing units that are developed in whole or in part with public subsidies and limited to residents earning a certain income. There are different target populations that affordable housing developments seek to serve, which may include families, seniors, and/or individuals with special needs (homeless, mental illness, developmental disabilities, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, emancipated youth).

The proposal by LTSC contemplates a total of approximately 190 affordable housing units, with approximately half reserved for families and individuals with special needs. Units would range in size from studios to three bedrooms. The units would be reserved for individuals and households earning 30% to 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), while those designated as special needs units would be made available to individuals and households earning 30% of AMI or less. Rents are generally set equal to approximately 30% of the total income for the household that will occupy the unit. It is important to note that this is the current project proposal, and will be subject to refinement over the coming months.

As the developer needs to complete a number of items before beginning construction (i.e., conduct outreach, finalize the project design, pursue entitlements and financing), lease-up of the units is still a few years away. Information on affordable housing in Los Angeles can be found at www.housing.lacity.org .

What will the ground floor retail space have?

The LTSC proposal includes approximately 20,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. We welcome your input as to how that commercial space can meet neighborhood and transit-rider needs.

When will the project be built?

LTSC will use the coming months to refine the project, conduct outreach, pursue their entitlements and negotiate legal agreements necessary to complete the project. Metro staff anticipates returning to the Metro Board of Directors in 2020 to request authorization to enter into a Joint Development Agreement and any other agreements necessary to complete the project with LTSC.

Assuming those are approved, LTSC would need approximately 18-24 months for permitting and constructing.

More details on a typical Joint Development Process.

Who is LTSC?

Additional information about LTSC can be found on their website at www.ltsc.org .

How do I stay informed?


  • Mailing list: Metro’s JD team keeps an updated stakeholder list and apprises interested parties/individuals of upcoming meetings about new developments. This includes public meetings, such as those held by the Metro Board and/or City Planning Commission, and outreach-specific meetings focused on project development. Sign up for our JD Mailing List and make sure to select “Vermont/Santa Monica Station.”
  • Vermont/Santa Monica Station and Joint Development Program webpages: Information will be updated regularly as the project develops.
  • Metro staff: Project staff is available to answer questions or attend meetings to update larger groups of stakeholders. For questions regarding JD efforts at the Vermont/Santa Monica site, please contact Nicole Velasquez at velasquezn@metro.net

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