The Telltale Signs of Gentrification in NELA: Mt. Washington and Highland Park | Real Estate

The Telltale Signs of Gentrification in NELA: Mt. Washington and Highland Park

 By: Tracy King
Since the late 2000’s, the hillside enclave of Mount Washington has become the most affluent neighborhood in North East Los Angeles (NELA). It is also known as the affordable Laurel Canyon of the East, featuring a high achieving elementary school located within its borders. This fashionable “offbeat” neighborhood in the San Rafael hills is also home of the Southwest Museum and the Self-Realization Fellowship Center. Make no mistake, though. While it might be affordable compared to the Hollywood Hills, homes in Mt. Washington are not cheap and Mt. Washington real estate has become a hot commodity.

The area has attracted such notable residents as a world famous Yogi and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The architecture on the mountain is a pleasing potpourri of everything from grand Craftsman to mid-century and postmodern boxes to rustic cottages. There is something for everyone. In keeping with the free-spirited vibe of the Hollywood Hills, many successful artists have made their homes on this steep (among the steepest streets in L.A.) hillside.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti once described San Francisco as a city that has turned into “an artistic theme park without artists”. Try as it might, it has not been possible for the gentrification process in NELA to entirely erase the deeply engrained Hispanic history of the area. While the influx of hipsters with disposable incomes has had a negative effect on longtime Latino residents, the movement has also proven to be a benefit to the struggling culture.

But like it or not, this is how gentrification works and what gentrification does. Money has been pumped into the area, transforming what was a neglected region in the eighties and nineties, to a cleaner and more rejuvenated upper middle-class community where children can safely play. The once-neglected garbage-strewn streets with cars up on jacks in neighboring Highland Park have received a massive makeover.

Gentrification is further evident in the Los Angeles district of Highland Park, not only with the appearance of new cafèés, restaurants, and retail boutiques popping up all over York Boulevard but with the ever-rising value of homes for sale in Highland Park. Real estate in Highland Park is much sought after by younger, progressive professionals and artists. Hipster bars like “Footsies” are a hop, skip and a jump away, if the nightlife appeals. North East Los Angeles exhibits elements of “neo-bohemian” and “green” gentrification, as oppose to the corporate “super gentrification” seen downtown.

There is a kind of small-town intimacy retained on the Northeast L.A. boulevards around Highland Park and Mt. Washington that has been lost in the Staples Center-Figueroa Corridor. A blend of cultures exists in Highland Park that could be described as upscale-Latino meets Americana. The residents on the “hill” tend to be educated and lean toward progressive thinking, welcoming all walks of life. You find activists involved with local city, state and national politics.

The hot properties on the “hill” of Mount Washington - as well as in Highland Park and neighboring Glassell Park - have exquisite awe-inspiring views and exceptionally large lots with mature trees. Many of the historic houses are in pristine condition and the yards are well cared for. On a clear day up on sea view Drive; one can see a hint of the shimmering pacific in the distance. The majestic San Gabriels are a breathtaking vista to the north. This hilly green oasis located a mere fifteen minutes from the gray urban landscape of downtown, truly remains one of L.A.’s best-kept secrets.

For buyers and sellers of real estate in gentrifying areas such as Mt. Washington and Highland Park, contacting an experienced real estate agent with proven success helping buyers and sellers is strongly recommended.
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