Preserving old homes in Northeast Los Angeles is part of why the area is thriving today. But accomplishing that takes work by owners and communities.
Make no mistake, real estate in Northeast LA is booming like never before and the vintage character homes in the region are an important part of the formula. Following Eagle Rock’s lead, homes for sale in Glassell Park, as well as homes in Mt. Washington and Highland Park – neighborhoods renowned for their architecturally important homes – are being snatched up fast and furious.
There is a respect for vintage homes in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) that somewhat and imperfectly defies a trend elsewhere in California and the rest of the U.S. That trend is to either tear down homes that are still beautiful and functional, only to replace them with something that typically has more interior square footage but which lacks any historical reference or character. Another related trend is poor attention to detail and architectural heritage in vintage home renovations.
We say imperfectly because the increasing value of real estate in places like Highland Park, Garvanza, Hermon and elsewhere has resulted in the tear downs of perfectly lovely Mission Revival and Craftsman homes. And sometimes, what’s renovated discards the original character of the building.
But there has been perhaps an equally strong forced toward respecting the history, the architectural integrity, and the quiet beauty of many such homes that have been saved and restored. Drive the streets of Eagle Rock and Glendale and you’ll find beautifully restored Victorians and Mid Century Moderns. The bungalows that are the bulk of homes for sale in Pasadena are being bought by people who still honor the detail and philosophy of the front porch, for example, as they garden out front while meeting their neighbors doing the same. Instead of those solid-wood homes being destroyed and sent to a landfill, to be replaced by foam-filled columns on garish McMansions, they are being restored with respect for how they were built many decades ago.
So what makes the difference? Why are some homes saved and others not?
If anyone says the economics of real estate rules the day, be sure to ask them if it’s about short-term or long-term financial prospects. Yes, a developer might make more money from buying a property, demolishing it, and constructing a six-bedroom lot-eater that shades the neighbors’ gardens. But when communities draw together to protect vintage properties – as is the case in Los Angeles’ Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZ) – the net result is a long-term return for the community.
The Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ is one such example. No developer can purchase a property for demolition without first providing solid reasons for doing so (either the home should be historically insignificant or in such disrepair that it is not viable).
Another way to consider the economics for the individual is the basic supply-demand curve of Economics 101. There is an increasingly limited supply of vintage homes due to their attrition. The demand for vintage will increase with population, perhaps even more so as the Millennial generation demonstrates a taste for “less is more.” They also like walkable communities, which is a characteristic of late 19th and early 20th century neighborhoods that were not designed for the car culture.
The HPOZ restrictions do cause rehabbers to take more time and spend more money (usually) to save architectural detailing, particularly that which faces the street. But the net result will be greener, closer-knit communities that will be far more interesting in 2030, 2040, and 2050 than the particleboard McMansions going up in cookie-cutter style all across the U.S.
Realtor Tracy King is an established expert in the buying and selling of vintage homes and assists buyers and sellers in helping to keep them intact. Call Tracy King (323-243-1234) to discuss where in NELA you can find a piece of local history.
With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 323.243.1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.