Greed, Misdeeds Surround Stalled Echo Park Project

Greed, Misdeeds Surround Stalled Echo Park Project

330 N. Union Avenue (also 1700 W. Temple Street)


I remember the mid-1980s when this V-shaped strip of Echo Park real estate housed cute Victorian and Craftsman bungalows.  No longer.  The homes have long been bulldozed and verdant greenery grows alongside rebar on the vacant lot.  Today, its makeshift boarded walls are littered with movie and TV posters, while the below-ground concrete pillars lay open to graffiti talent.  So much for the “No Entry Without Permission” sign.  I drive past daily and, in response to inspired queries from clients and friends alike, here’s the rundown on the little-parcels-that-could:

  • since 2000, the property has transferred ownership 5 times
  • an erstwhile owner and officer of 1700 Temple LLC died in a 2007 plane crash
  • a 2007 mechanics  lien was filed on the property
  • a notice of default and foreclosure sale occurred in late 2008 and early 2009
  • Although permits are filed with the LA Department of Building & Safety, the last permit expired in August 2008
  • ADI (Advanced Development and Investment Inc.) purchased the land from Union Bell Partners (an REO  private lender)  in June 2009 with plans of finishing Temple Union Apartment Homes, a 52-unit, 4-story project subsidized by public agencies for low-income housing

Like other classic Los Angeles real estate stories, enter the true game-changer: divorce.  The civil proceedings of ADI’s former president, Salim Karimi, and Jannki Mithaiwala, the daughter of company founder Ajit Mithaiwala, opened up federal and city investigations into the company’s (and its subcontractors’) improper use of taxpayer money for substandard housing projects, totaling millions, as well as fraudulent invoices, little-to-no bookkeeping, and extraneous contributions to public officials.  The LA Times noted that ADI “received $29 million in subsidies for 15 projects and built dozens of other developments using state tax credits in neighborhoods such as South Los Angeles, Echo Park, Westlake and Historic Filipinotown.”  In October 2010, a court-appointed receiver traced 400 bank accounts and gold bullion (valued at $600,000) to the company’s assets.

Pending litigation, the Echo Park project is stalled.  At present, the only activity on the vacant lot is the application and removal of advertisements.  Banksy, if you’re still in town, have at it on the concrete.  The value of real estate is sure to appreciate.

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