Construction broke ground this week on Phase 1A of Jordan Downs, a massive public housing project in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Developed by BRIDGE Housing and The Michaels Organization, the overall $1 billion project "promises to spur economic development across the region and become a national model for the renewal of public housing," say project officials.

Phase 1A, which broke ground June 5, was designed by Santa Ana, CA-based SVA Architects, Inc., and is being built by Cannon Constructors South of Los Angeles. When complete in the third quarter of 2018, this $58.7-million portion of the project will consist of 115 rental apartments in 12 buildings on 3.15 acres.

The Master Plan is a LEED-ND Silver neighborhood and each residential phase will be built to LEED Silver certification levels including features such as exceeding Title 24 by 10%, construction waste diversion of not less than 75%, Green Label Plus flooring, high efficacy lighting throughout, drought tolerant non-invasive landscaping, low flow water fixtures/fittings, HVAC systems that use non-HCFC refrigerants

"The architectural style is Spanish Mediterranean with a California flair and consistent with that style will be tile roofs," says Ernesto M. Vasquez, FAIA, NCARB; CEO of SVA Architects. He says that considering that this is a high-use environment with large families, all of the materials are designed for durability and longevity and will "maintain their integrity for several future decades."

Vasquez told me that Jordan Downs is being phased so that residents would not be displaced while construction is underway. 

The idea for the project began in 2008, when the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), along with residents and numerous stakeholders, initiated a visionary plan to transform the distressed public housing development, Jordan Downs, into a vibrant urban village of mixed-uses and mixed-incomes.

The development is currently broken into six master phases, each of which will consist of sub-phases developed by BRIDGE and The Michaels Organization. When all phases are complete, officials say the project will create hundreds of jobs, approximately 1,410 affordable and market-rate homes, numerous public amenities including a new community and recreation center, 160,000 sq-ft of retail space, nine acres of green space, and new neighborhood programs and services.

SVA Architects recently won seven 2017 Gold Nugget Awards, one of which for Jordan Downs (in collaboration with Mithun | Solomon), which received a Judges Special Award of Excellence.