Earlier this year, Costco announced its plans to build a store with housing units in Baldwin Village in South Los Angeles.
There will be 800 apartment units added to the store and about 400 jobs will be available at Costco for the residents. Costco will designate 184 units for low-income tenants. The site will have a “state-of-the-art store, featuring fresh produce [and] healthy food options for residents,” according to the developer. The store will also have a pharmacy, an optical service counter and a delivery service. This will be the first Costco in South LA.
The store and housing unit will sit on a five-acre lot that was originally View Park Community Hospital. The mixed-use project will be 25% retail and 75% housing. The project was created to support families, seniors and other residents in the community.
Thrive Living, a company owned by a real estate firm called Magnum Real Estate Group in New York, will partner with Costco to create about 400 jobs for the apartments’ residents. Jordan Bill, a representative of Thrive Living, said in a written statement that the company is focused on providing affordable housing for the employees.
“Our company is focused on addressing the severe housing affordability crisis in Los Angeles, while also attracting retailers willing to make long-term commitments and deliver community-serving products and services that enrich the living experience for our residents and neighbors,” Bill said.
Elaine Ahumada, professor of political science, explained how the government could provide similar incentives for businesses to help their employees with affordable housing.
“Companies that invest in mixed-use development projects are positively addressing some of the challenges that exist for creating sustainable multigenerational communities that provide for social mobility and opportunity for economic well-being,” Ahumada said. “From a policy perspective, there need to be incentives for businesses to invest in such projects.
“Government’s encouragement and instruments of policy that create opportunities for businesses to receive tax benefits and different types of financing can aid in course correcting many of the problems surrounding housing and employment.”
Costco’s introduction of a housing unit in South LA has the potential to reshape the community.
“If executed well, it can serve as a great model for other cities to follow,” Ahumada said. “Of course, many factors must be taken into consideration when thinking about mixed-use development. In this particular example, while housing may be addressed as well as potential employment, one cannot be certain that the existence of a Costco can fulfill the needs of those who already struggle to pay for basic needs.”
Despite housing efforts made by former Mayor Eric Garcetti and current Mayor Karen Bass, there is still a housing crisis. With many low-income families in the community, mixed use housing applications will be extremely competitive.
“Since this development project is going to have ‘apartments marketed for affordable housing for seniors and low-income households,’ there will definitely be more applicants than who can be accommodated,” Ahumada said. “Nonetheless, the focus on affordable housing is much needed and every bit helps to alleviate the economic disparities that exist in communities.”
Briana Willis, freshman communications major, shared what she thinks about the Costco project and the housing crisis in South LA.
“I believe this will be a good thing that offers an opportunity to people in need.”
If the project is successful, it could change the future of LA. and assist those affected by the housing crisis.
If it goes well, other companies may follow suit with Costco’s affordable housing and job opportunities to usher in a new era of housing.