Welcome to Rock Row

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published at http://www.eastsidelivingla.com
By Chris H. Sieroty
In a tree-lined neighborhood of Eagle Rock a new housing development is under construction. The project is the first small lot subdivision in the city of Los Angeles to be LEED certified, and according to the Wronske brothers, it’s the first affordable opportunity for first-time home ownership in the area.
Kevin and Hardy Wronske founded Heyday Partnership, a develop-design-build firm, in 2001. Since then they’ve completed single-family and multi-family homes in Echo Park, Lincoln Heights and Glassell Park. 
All of their projects have meet LEED standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in Washington D.C.
“When we first started the company we were driven by sustainable building,” says Kevin Wronske. “Today, we want our homes to meet LEED standards, but more importantly be affordable. Our company builds quality homes for the middle class.”
You can buy a Rock Row home for between $450,000 to $545,000. If you were house hunting a couple of years ago, you know that it was difficult if not impossible to purchase a home in Los Angeles for a half-million dollars. But if you’re in the housing market today, you know that for $500,000 a new home is within reach for the average buyer.
The homes range in size from 1,310 square feet to 1,540 square feet. “We wanted Rock Row to have a bigger impact on the community, so we came up with this project instead of building condos,” says Kevin. “We also wanted to be in the forefront of LEED home building, setting a standard for other developers. 
But the modest homes are contemporary in design. They feature balconies and patios, sustainable water and lighting systems and amenities like stainless steel appliances, solid core doors and recessed lighting. They also included sustainable bamboo floors and central A/C with ultra-high 14 seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio.
The development includes a water permeable grass pave system for the driveway; tankless water heaters and low-flow fixtures for water conservation; green roofs and water efficient, drought tolerant landscaping; and pre-wiring for a rooftop solar array.
“Rock Row was designed and will be built for certification under the LEED for Homes program,” says Hardy Wronske. “The certification shows that we are not just green washing and helps show that green development has come a long way from where we were just six years ago.”
Kevin says for the price this is a “pretty unique” project. “I believe people will chose to live here,” he adds.
Between them, the brothers have degrees in architecture and engineering. They’ve worked for private companies and Habit for Humanity. Together they fill the roles of architect, developer and builder, which Kevin claims is a fancy way of saying ‘my brother and I do everything.’
“Hardy did an internship with Habitat for Humanity,” Kevin says. “It gave us a good foundation to say development is something that needs to be socially responsible. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, but the question is ho much profit do we need to make?”
But the project almost never broke round because of the collapse of the housing market.
“We were lucky,” says Hardy. “Our financing came through just before the collapse. If this project was funded in June it would be safe to say it wouldn’t have happened. Had we also not presented an affordable and LEED certified design, the project would not have happened.”
Talking with their mortgage broker recently, Hardy says, he was joking that he thinks we might have gotten the last construction loan in Los Angeles. 
“We are building something that people are going to be excited about no matter the market,” Kevin says.
The brothers share the same goals. They want to renovate and build single-family and multi-family homes with respect for the environment and homeowner. They also like to push the boundaries
“One thing we are trying to do is push the boundaries of zoning and architecture with Rock Row,” says Kevin. “But we will never do a project if the community doesn’t like it. You have to remember, the city has the zoning power, so if you have to fight them, you shouldn’t do the project.”
They named their partnership Heyday because the term evokes nostalgia.
“It’s often used to refer to the good old days of a city,” says Hardy. “We are looking forward. Heyday doesn’t refer to the past, but instead we want to make today your heyday or making a life style that could be described as their heyday.”
As for naming their project Rock Row, Kevin says it was pretty much an open competition among their friends.
“In the end, Rock came from Eagle Rock and Row because it’s a row of homes,” he says. “After we named the development, we went to the planning department, which named the new street Rock Row.”
 www.heyday-la.com

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