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Nick Buchanan, president of Cape Point Development, reviews architectural drawings in one of the recently completed units at the One South mixed-use development in Redondo Beach planned for completion in August.

As Nick Buchanan, president of Cape Point Development, gave a recent tour of the One South project in Redondo Beach slated to finish construction next month, he couldn’t help but recognize the irony.

While Buchanan is proud of the mixed-use development with 52 residential units in what he called a “progressive project that helps meet the city's housing needs,” others see the project entirely differently.

For those opposed to increased density in Redondo Beach, the project on Pacific Coast Highway near the city’s gateway with Torrance represents exactly what the coastal community doesn’t need: more people and more traffic.

In August 2017, the city council unanimously passed a moratorium on mixed-use development projects. Forty five days later, they extended it for another year. One South was approved in September 2015, before the moratorium.

Despite the lukewarm reception among the current Redondo Beach City Council, One South has home buyers. Buchanan said they already sold 14 condos ranging from one to three bedrooms between $675,000 and $1.3 million. He also has a list of more than 1,000 people who expressed interest.

“If you create jobs and there is demand, either you supply the homes or you don’t,” Buchanan said. “When supply is suppressed, prices go up. It’s that simple.”

Although the development is still more than a month away from receiving its finishing touches, Buchanan showed off at least one fully completed unit on the 1.5-acre site. Each condo is equipped with modern furnishings, hardwood floors and an outdoor deck. Some units are single story and some have up to three stories with an upper outdoor deck.

On the ground floor along PCH, the project includes 10,500 square feet of commercial space, an aspect mandated by the mixed-use zoning, Buchanan said. Several possible tenants include a coffee shop, burger place, fitness center, nail salon, barber shop and real estate agency though no deals have officially been inked yet, Buchanan said.

“The whole point is to have a vibrant neighborhood serving retail uses here,” he said.

Resident Bruce Szeles, who frequently pushes back on development projects in the city, said One South did not get as much attention from the community as the nearby Legado Redondo. Both went through the planning process about the same time, but One South was smaller and the units were not rentals.

“It's interesting because after approval, when the building started, people saw how massive it was,” Szeles said. “Those size projects haven’t been built a lot in this area lately. Due to One South, people were more adamant about what went in the Legado project.”

Szeles acknowledged while the condos at One South were not his personal preference, living among greater density in an urban environment was a lifestyle preferred by a younger generation. Buchanan calls it urban infill and believes it represents the future of meeting California's housing demands.

“If you do away with mixed use housing, it takes away one of the tools the city has to bring housing into that community,” Buchanan said.

Along with One South, the only other mixed-use projects slated for Redondo currently include Legado, which is ready to break ground, and the redeveloped South Bay Galleria, which still needs city council approval. The Galleria project avoided the mixed-use moratorium because it's located in a regional commercial zone. 

Grappling over these issues in Redondo Beach currently is the General Plan Advisory Committee, which set out a year ago to rewrite the city’s general plan and set the stage for future development. Expected to have 10 meetings throughout the year, the committee's work has been extended to 20 meetings and two years. 

Nick Biro, president of Blue Mountain Development, who chairs the committee, said the 27 members of the group will be seeking community feedback in coming weeks.

Rather than take a position yet on hot button issues such as density and mixed-use zoning, Biro said the committee would be presenting multiple options for public review. But ultimately the committee will have to vote and present something with a unified voice, Biro said.

“Density is a very sensitive matter with the city and there has been discussions about places where residential could be placed, but there is opposition to that,” Biro said. “What we’re trying to do is come up with ideas. We are not a policy body, so any ideas we are bringing forward will be for folks to evaluate.”

Some of the suggestions percolating are ways to bring more creative office space to attract more startup businesses along Artesia Boulevard and 190th Street, close to where the metro line would be, and possibly changing the definition of mixed-use. At issue is really density in the city's current mixed-use definition, which allows 35 units per acre.

Biro, who served on the planning commission and voted in favor of the One South project, is developing an El Segundo project with 58 homes. He said he would hate to be an applicant in Redondo Beach.

“It’s basically what do you want in the city? In order to get mass transit to really function, you need a certain density and in Redondo that's very difficult,” Biro said.

For more visit LiveOneSouth.com.

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