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By Sky Minor | Broker in Los Angeles, CA
  • Sky's Silver Lake Neighborhood Tour pt. 1

    Posted Under: General Area in Silver Lake, Shopping & Local Amenities in Silver Lake, In My Neighborhood in Silver Lake  |  November 2, 2010 9:39 PM  |  2,546 views  |  No comments
    Silver Lake Neighborhood tours are something that my partner Rachel and I did for our Silver Lake Real Estate site. We love this area of Los Angeles. We basically came of age in Silver Lake, spending our 20's and now into our 30's in the restaurants, music venues, coffee shops and boutiques in this wonderful area. We wrote articles about the different areas of Silver Lake to share our own experiences and to show outsiders what this neighborhood is all about. Here is our first installment, Silver Lake Blvd.

    Silver Lake Boulevard is the eponymous road going through the hills of Silver Lake. It begins just North of the 101 freeway and passes under Sunset Boulevard then passes the two Silver Lake Dog Parks, and the hiking trail that runs alongside Silver Lake's namesake reservoir before it ends at Glendale Blvd.

    Silver Lake Blvd. Map from Sunset to Glendale
    Silver Lake Blvd. Through the hills of Silver Lake CA.

    Throughout the years this scenic, winding street has become more urbanized and polished while never compromising it's artsy, laid back style. Silver Lake Boulevard has never had a shortage of culture. It houses popular music venues like Spaceland and The Silverlake Lounge. The crowd here is typically young and excruciatingly hip, but even just going for the people watching is a quintessential Silver Lake Experience. For the more mature crowd, Silver Lake Blvd offers fantastic shops, cafes and restaurants. Reservoir and LA Mill Coffee are two newer eateries which recently popped up on the blvd and are always packed with the creative, intellectual Silverlakers who come down from their homes and estates in the hills above. The boutiques that line the street are fashion-forward, artistic and cater to the higher brow set.

    As the street crests the hill and runs alongside the reservoir, some of Silver Lake's architectural treasure properties can be seen peeking out through the lush foliage. Silver Lake has more architecturally significant properties per square mile than any other area of Los Angeles. Now-famous architects
    Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner and many others created breathtaking Modern and Avant Garde buildings in the middle part of the 20th century. The star among the group was a Frank Lloyd Wright understudy named Richard Neutra. He was so revered he even had his own cul-de sac just off Silver Lake Blvd called Neutra Place with about 10 modern masterpieces designed in "Pavillion" style. These modern homes have strong horizontal lines and large windows to take in the stunning views. Truly distinctive and unique properties abound in this region of Silver Lake. There are more Neutra homes in Silver Lake than any other place.

    The Silver Lake reservoir is surrounded by hills speckled with these gorgeous homes, a running track on the peripherals of the lake, 2 dog parks (separated by big and little, gotta remember the little guys), tennis courts, a rec center, meeting places, community sports activities and more. The reservoir was named after Herman Silver who was an early Los Angeles water commissioner in the 1900's. This reservoir was one of many built around the LA metro area by the DWP for water management. The reservoir does not provide water for the Silver Lake neighborhood, it actually comes from Eagle Rock.

    Silver Lake Reservoir from the Blvd.
    The Silver Lake Reservoir. In the background is the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory.

    Gorgeous views of the reservoir

    Silver Lake Reservoir and the San Gabriel mountains in the distance.

    When Silver Lake ends on Glendale Blvd, drivers can see the brand new Silver Lake library, a stunning example of modern architecture that is perfectly suited for Silver Lake's rich modernist architectural history.

    Silver lake Library

    Homes around the Silver Lake reservoir are among the most desirable in Silver Lake and Los Angeles at large. Seven figure price tags are common for the vintage and architecturally significant properties nestled in the hills around the sparkling reservoir. There are old Hollywood vintage mansions and Spanish Mission style homes that are as beautiful as anywhere else in California. This area is the high end of Silver Lake, and the arguably the entire East side of Los


    The modern homes fetch high price tags, and they are rarely up for sale. These houses are trophy homes for architecturally savvy owners. They are increasing in value despite real estate market turbulence because they are so rare and coveted.

    Thanks for coming on our Silver Lake Blvd. tour. Stay tuned for more neighborhood tours of the East Side.

  • Is NELA a blighted area? Would you think so if they offered you $1m in redevelopment funds?

    Posted Under: General Area in Cypress Park, Quality of Life in Cypress Park, In My Neighborhood in Cypress Park  |  October 8, 2010 1:10 AM  |  3,250 views  |  No comments

    Recently there has been some civic discussion about the area where I live and work, North East Los Angeles(NELA). Here is an extra large map for your reference.

    NELA map

    There is much chatter lately and some people are making waves to improve the South Western border of NELA in the Cypress Park neighborhood along the LA river. The Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) is currently seeking to create a redevelopment project here approximate funding $1,000,000. The so-called NELA River Redevelopment Project Area would cover most communities that lie along the eastside of the Los Angeles River, including significant sections of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Elysian Valley. The area in question starts at Figueroa and heads Northwest alongside the LA river to Fletcher, then begins again in the north part of Atwater, above Chevy Chase. To be able to create a redevelopment project area neighborhoods within it must be declared “blighted”. Click here for a map of the proposed “blighted” area (pdf file). The question becomes, should a neighborhood adopt a "blighted" status to get redevelopment money?

    When it comes to creating a new redevelopment project area what does “blighted” actually mean? Being a broker of Silver Lake Real Estate, I certainly don't like hearing my home town and my primary area of business referred to in such a context. According to California Redevelopment Law for an area to be considered "blighted” it must be predominantly urbanized and have a combination of conditions “so prevalent and so substantial that it causes a reduction of, or lack of, proper utilization of the area to such an extent that it constitutes a serious physical and economic burden on the community that cannot reasonably be expected to be reversed or alleviated by private enterprise or governmental action, or both, without redevelopment”. This sounds very familiar to me. Many large policies are made on a statewide or national level. I have seen NELA be thrown under the bus with regard to the appraisals of our many 80+ year old houses. Because real estate appraisers must comment on properties based on a statewide or national scale, these old houses in the hills of LA are often portrayed as rickety and substandard. We who live, work and play here know otherwise and the real estate market certainly validates the worth of these properties, but when compared to much newer properties in less urban areas on a standardized scale, NELA may not be favorable. Similar to any major older city seeing gentrification like Brooklyn or Oakland, NELA is penalized by broader standards without taking into consideration neighborhood "vibe". 

    California Redevelopment Law goes on to list the “prevalent and so substantial” conditions that must exist in order for an area to be consider “blighted”. These conditions include;

    1) buildings in which it is unsafe or unhealthy for persons to live or work. Including buildings of substandard, defective, or obsolete design or construction given the present general plan, zoning, or other development standards.
    2) Adjacent or nearby incompatible land uses that prevent the development of those parcels or other portions of the project area.
    3) The existence of small sized lots that are in multiple ownership and whose physical development has been impaired by their irregular shapes and small sizes.
    4) Depreciated or stagnant property values.
    5) Impaired property values due in significant part hazardous wastes on property.
    6) Abnormally high business vacancies, abnormally low lease rates, or an abnormally high number of abandoned buildings.
    7) A serious lack of necessary commercial facilities that are normally found in neighborhoods, including grocery stores, drug stores, and banks and other lending institutions.
    8) Serious residential overcrowding that has resulted in significant public health or safety problems.
    9) An excess of bars, liquor stores, or adult-oriented businesses that has resulted in significant public health, safety, or welfare problems.
    10) A high crime rate that constitutes a serious threat to the public safety and welfare.

    ---For more information about the proposed NELA River Redevelopment Project area visit CRA/LA website at: www.crala.org/nela or the LA City Clerks website at:http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=08-3459.

    To buy or sell property in NELA, contact Sky Minor at his website for Silver Lake Real Estate.

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