LOS ANGELES — This next one is for John.
The Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), a nonprofit that serves residents in the Historic Filipinotown neighborhood of Los Angeles, has broken ground on a new, mixed-use development that will serve as the organization’s future headquarters in L.A.
The new development will also honor the nonprofit's former executive director and Orange County resident, John Eric Swing, who died on June 28 of complications from COVID-19.
“He was such a huge part of the community,” said Jennifer Taylor, SIPA board member and head of the organization’s real estate. “It wouldn’t feel right to not honor him in some way.”
The HiFi Collective at 3200 West Temple St. will be a five-story development. It will feature 64 residential units above a ground floor level consisting of SIPA's new headquarters, including office space, a community center, a kitchen, and a business center that will be named the John Eric Swing Small Business Center.
The new, mixed-use development is being built in partnership with affordable housing developer Linc Housing Partners. It will help charter SIPA’s mission of serving the Filipino American community and the multi-cultural residents in the Historic Filipinotown area of Los Angeles into the future, Taylor said. The project will replace SIPA's existing headquarters, where they have been operating since the 1990s.
Taylor added that the new SIPA development would also help with the city’s housing needs by providing affordable housing. The development will have 63 affordable studio-sized units and one two-bedroom unit.
"It’s time for the organization to evolve and be relevant with what we’re offering to the community," Taylor said. "The world has changed, and in order to keep up with the evolution, we need new programming space to support the community. SIPA chose the highest and best use in this mixed-use to give back and help with this age-old problem of homelessness."
Swing, a Fountain Valley resident, had been looking forward to the redevelopment of the organization’s new national headquarters and leading SIPA to the next generation of community service, Taylor explained.
Founded in 1972, SIPA is one of the oldest Filipino American organizations in Los Angeles. The nonprofit provides health and human services, community economic development, arts and culture, events, and other resources to the local community.
Swing was a pillar in the Filipino American community before joining SIPA in 2015. At SIPA, he served as a development manager and a business counselor. After a year-long nationwide search, SIPA appointed Swing as its executive director earlier this year. A few months after being appointed, Swing had tested positive for COVID-19 by mid-June and, due to several complications, was admitted to the hospital and later died, SIPA officials said.
SIPA Board President Lyle Del Mundo started with Swing at SIPA in 2015. He said he misses Swing’s wide smile and boisterous laughter – Swing was the type of person who would always be willing to go out of his way to help in any way he can, Del Mundo said.
“If I could describe him using one word: unselfish,” Del Mundo said. “He was the type of person that would take the shirt off his back and give it to you. He was a steward in the community.”
Del Mundo said it was only fitting to honor Swing and name a section of the new, state-of-the-art community center and headquarters after him. The development is slated to be completed in 2022.
“He began working in the community because of his children,” Del Mundo said. “He wanted to make a difference and create change so that our culture and heritage doesn’t disappear.”