LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Joe Buscaino and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) have secured federal approval for a visionary plan that aims to transform the distressed Jordan Downs public housing development into a model for 21st century affordable housing and an engine for economic revitalization in Watts.

Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo by Keyang Pang
Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo by Keyang Pang

The approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin demolition at the 49-acre site moves the new project one step closer to a groundbreaking in Watts that has been nearly a decade in the making.

“For years, we have worked to build the foundation for a better future in Watts — a future where affordable housing, good jobs, and economic prosperity are within reach for everyone who lives and works here,” said Mayor Garcetti. “With this approval, we are one step closer to a new Jordan Downs that will transform this neighborhood and spur revitalization across the community.”

The first phase of the new project — a collaborative public-private effort led by HACLA — will replace a portion of the distressed federal public housing site with 250 units of new affordable housing, 120,000 square feet of retail, nearly two acres of park space, and an expansive community center. Construction is slated to begin later this year.

“This news has been long-awaited by Watts residents,” said Councilmember Buscaino. “This redevelopment is a catalyst for change in Watts, bringing over $1 billion in public and private investment to the area and with it, hundreds of jobs for Watts residents, new affordable housing, and clean, safe areas for our children to play and learn.”

When all phases of the project are complete, the build-out of Jordan Downs will include additional public amenities and approximately 1,410 units of housing. It will offer both affordable rental and ownership units, and set a new, LEED-certified standard for smart neighborhood development.

“This is a big win for the residents and the Watts community,” said HACLA President and CEO Douglas Guthrie. “The process of trying to rebuild and transform public housing in Los Angeles is challenging, but a firm commitment by this agency coupled with the residents’ motivation to create a thriving community has made this possible.”