Real estate in Northeast Los Angeles has been booming for years. We hear it on television and in the news. Rarely is there a story that uses the term “gentrification” to describe areas like Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and Highland Park, regions where home values have skyrocketed. Is it something home buyers and sellers need to know?
By definition, “gentrifying” is upgrading a home or district to fit middle-class tastes. The middle class, or bourgeoisie, tries to emulate the standards of the upper class. In the United Kingdom, peerage refers to people of high social standing, specifically the class of people who follow below peerage. Thus, the gentrification of an area is a process whereby people of lower socioeconomic status are forced to leave a region in order to make it more attractive to people of higher socioeconomic status. Removing rundown inner-city homes from working-class families to renovate and sell to the privileged is also known as progress or gentrification.
That is precisely what is happening in the once run-down neighborhood of Highland Park. This ongoing restorative transformation has helped eradicate crime and strengthen the local economy. Juice bars and yogurt shops have sprung up in place of abandoned laundromats and liquor stores. Local businesses are now thriving, where windows once were boarded up and carcasses rusted.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Glassell Park neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles, where not long ago police razed suspected gang homes in a dramatic crackdown on crime. Shortly thereafter, investors began investing in repairs to homes overlooking the Glassell Park hillside, and property values began to rise with new shops and restaurants appearing in direct proportion.
At one point, Eco Park stood out as the symbol of gentrification in Los Angeles. This forgotten slum went through a complete metamorphosis in the ’90s, making it one of the most sought after areas east of downtown. With Echo Park as a model, the restoration movement has continued its march east, rehabilitating other areas, such as Highland Park and Glassell Park, with great potential.
One telltale sign of the up-and-coming neighborhood is what’s known as the Starbucks phenomenon. If this “7-eleven” of coffee shops has chosen to plant their green lady logo on the block, you can bet your bottom dollar that ‘The Hipsters Are Coming’ or, more likely, that the Hipsters are here. This, of course, means property values are going up. In the historic Highland Park region, York Boulevard is now reserved for Starbucks. Having a Starbucks on the corner is clear evidence that a wealthy community is on the rise. Home values for sale in Highland Park are absolutely through the roof.
Another way to measure wealth is to explore the sheer volume of trendy restaurants, bars, and art galleries, not to mention cafes populated by too-cool-for-school patrons everywhere. This enclave has become a hot spot for exotic dining among foodies and the like. Good food seems to go along with gentrification. That is one of the advantages. Today you can find French, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese and a wide variety of vegan food in this once neglected district. It has become an amazing multicultural mecca. One more example of economic growth is the improvement of public transport. Business people can travel from paradise to the city center by train in a matter of minutes.
The median price of a house in Highland Park is now approaching seven hundred thousand. Relatively speaking, this area remains a bargain in the exorbitant Los Angeles real estate market. As beautification flourishes in these older neighborhoods in NELA, real estate naturally becomes more desirable and property values rise.