Hawthorne approves SpaceX-adjacent apartment complex

A major apartment complex is on the way to Hawthorne after the city council approved plans for the mixed use project Tuesday in a contentious meeting that saw councilmembers arguing bitterly for and against the project.

The development is set to bring 230 apartments, along with 3,700 square feet of restaurant space, to the southeastern corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Jack Northrup Avenue. Just a half-mile from the Green Line, the project site is directly across the street from SpaceX and backs up against an Amazon shipping center.

Mayor Alex Vargas told the council that both companies had concerns about the project and asked that representatives from those companies be allowed to speak in a new public hearing session, though one had already been held in September.

Vargas suggested the new hearing would allow the council to consider lower density options for the project, which was initially proposed with 274 units of housing, as the Daily Breeze reports.

“Why not 200? Why not 150?” Vargas asked, suggesting that councilmembers had secretively contacted the project’s developer, Blackwood Real Estate, to reach a deal for the 230-unit version of the project.

Councilmember Angie Reyes English in turn accused the mayor, a former councilmember, SpaceX, and the city’s planning department of colluding “to trash this project.”

Eventually, the council voted 3-2 against reopening the public hearing.

“There is nothing left to discuss,” said Councilmember Olivia Valentine. “We have heard from all sides on this issue.”

In another 3-2 vote, the council approved the project, with Mayor Vargas and Councilmember Nilo Michelin casting the no votes.

Both the mayor and Michelin argued that the project was inappropriate for the area.

“We have an industrial zone and a residential zone,” said Michelin. “If we put a factory in the middle of a residential zone, it wouldn’t make any sense. Same thing if we put apartments right in the middle of an industrial zone.”

But Valentine argued that the transit-oriented development would bring housing and restaurant space in close proximity to a major train stop, paving the way for future commercial and residential development.

“If you don’t take a risk and make some changes, changes will not happen,” she said.

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