The Q Variel, the first of California Home Builders' planned San Fernando Valley mixed-use "Q" developments to begin leasing, has barely opened its doors and already encountered a host of issues that could threaten its ability to attract tenants.
Located at 6200 Variel Avenue in Woodland Hills, California, The Q Variel is the first of six properties developed by Israeli-American Council Chairman Shawn Evanhaim's real estate development group. Billed as "luxury apartment living" in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, this reporter wonders if prospective tenants will find it quite so luxurious.
For months, demonstrators have displayed highly visible banners on the corner of Variel and Erwin during business hours.
The demonstrators are using attention-grabbing messaging as part of an ongoing labor dispute over Evanhaim's alleged mistreatment and exploitation of employees. A representative from a trade union that is responsible for the banner said, "Evanhaim continually uses underpaid, exploited labor and cuts corners driving his costs down. The quality is low. His luxury apartments are nothing more than smoke and mirrors." When asked about the messaging, he said, "look at the Megans law website; search 6200 Variel. It's all there. People should be concerned."
Could this help explain the lack of commercial tenants at the Variel? Has this controversy driven businesses away from The Q for good?
Developers Have a Duty to the Community
The union representative stressed that, "he (Evanhaim) has a duty to the community and again and again he proves that all he cares about is himself." He went on to say, "with income inequality growing even higher in Los Angeles amid COVID-19, you have to wonder why developers like Evanhaim would continue to take advantage of low-wage workers. Not only is working with shoddy safety standards a risk to the essential workers building the Q, but without health insurance, an outbreak at the site could also threaten the surrounding neighbors."
Heavily Congested Area Getting Worse
The Q group of apartment buildings have been under criticism since they were first proposed. Opponents of the projects point out that with 6 developments in the pipeline, Evanhaim has had no qualms about contributing to the massive over-development of Woodland Hills. Valley residents worry of increased congestion and rising rents as a result of Evanhaim's new mega developments.
BDN interviewed one resident who called the Q Variel "over-priced" and "not worth it." Considering the target demographic are millennials, many whom have been affected by the economic impact from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis The Q may have problems competing for their dollars if it doesn't offer a quality product.
Evanhaim's office has not responded when reached for comment