Go For Broke Plaza and First Street North Residences break ground at 232 Judge John Aiso St.

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BREAKING GROUND ­— Groundbreaking ceremony for Go For Broke Plaza and First Street North Residences. photo by Gary Leonard

Mixed-use affordable housing development replaces city parking lot in Little Tokyo

Over the decades, the gradual expansion of the Los Angeles Civic Center has eaten up blocks of historic Little Tokyo. A small section lost to the community via eminent domain is now slated to return through a new affordable housing development.

On Feb. 13, Little Tokyo Service Center broke ground on the Go for Broke Plaza and First Street North Residences, a mixed-use project which will replace a city-owned parking lot next to the Japanese American National Museum, at 232 Judge John Aiso St. The project, billed as one of the largest 100 percent affordable housing developments in the City of Los Angeles, will include 248 affordable housing units as well as ground-floor commercial space.

The apartments will come in a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans, and include 80 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans at a site located directly across the street from a VA facility. The apartments will cater to households earning between 30 and 80 percent of the Los Angeles area median income level, per a Housing Department staff report.

The roughly $138-million project is being built through a partnership with Go For Broke National Education Center, and will house a permanent home for the organization’s exhibition focused on the experiences of Japanese American soldiers during World War II. The complex’s entry courtyard will incorporate the existing Go For Broke monument near JANM, which pays tribute to the soldiers of the 100th/442nd Regimental combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. “Go For Broke” served as the regiment’s motto.

Carde Ten is designing a contemporary low-rise development, which will consist of two six-story buildings. At street level, the complex will offer 40,000 square feet of commercial space, which will give preference to legacy Little Tokyo small businesses and organizations. That allowance comes at a time when some of the neighborhood’s mainstays, such as Suehiro Cafe, have faced eviction.

Plans to redevelop the project site have been in the works for almost two decades, starting from when the property was first identified as a future home for Go For Broke’s education center. While the standalone project never made it to construction, it was later resurrected as a component of the larger project with LTSC.

The First Street North site is one of several publicly-owned properties in Little Tokyo which are likely to be up for redevelopment in the coming years, including the former home of Parker Center, the Mangrove property across Alameda Street and the land surrounding the Little Tokyo/Arts District subway station.

The complex is one of four affordable housing developments now in the works from LTSC, following a 53-unit building which broke ground recently in Chinatown, a mixed-use complex next to Metro’s Vermont/Santa Monica Station, and a development rising at the former site of the Umeya Rice Cake Company.

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