The real estate industry in Northeast Los Angeles has been booming for years. We hear it on television and in the news. There is seldom a news story where the term “gentrification” is used to describe areas like Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and Highland Park, regions where home values have skyrocketed. Is it something that home buyers and sellers should know?
By definition, “gentrification” is upgrading a home or district to suit the taste of the middle class. The middle class, or bourgeoisie, is trying to emulate the standards of the upper class. In the United Kingdom, the nobility refers to people of high social position, specifically the class of people that remains below the nobility. Thus, the gentrification of an area is a process whereby those of lower socioeconomic status are forced to leave a region to make it more attractive to people of higher socioeconomic status. Removing dilapidated downtown homes away from working-class families to be renovated and sold to the privileged is also known as progress or gentrification.
That is precisely what is happening in the once dilapidated Highland Park neighborhood. 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 laundries and liquor stores. Local businesses are now thriving, where windows were once closed and corpses rusted.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, where police recently razed the homes of suspected gangs in a dramatic crackdown on crime. Shortly thereafter, investors began investing in the repair of homes overlooking the Glassell Park hillside, and property values began to rise with the emergence of new stores and restaurants in direct proportion.
At one point, Eco Park stood as the symbol of gentrification in Los Angeles. This forgotten slum underwent a complete metamorphosis in the 1990s, making it one of the most sought after areas east of the city center. With Echo Park as a model, the restoration movement has continued its march eastward, rehabilitating other areas, such as Highland Park and Glassell Park, with great potential.
A 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, the Hipsters have already arrived. This, of course, means that property values are going up. In the historic Highland Park region, York Boulevard is now reserved by Starbucks. Having a Starbucks on the corner is clear evidence that a wealthy community is on the rise. Highland Park home values are absolutely exploding.
Another way to measure opulence is by exploring the sheer volume of trendy restaurants, bars, and art galleries, not to mention the crowded cafes 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 hand in hand 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 incredible multicultural mecca. One more example of economic growth is the improvement of public transportation. Business people can travel from paradise to the city center by train in a matter of minutes.
The median price of a home in Highland Park is now approaching 700,000. In relative terms, this area is still a bargain in Los Angeles’ exorbitant housing market. As the beautification of these older neighborhoods flourishes in NELA, real estate naturally becomes more desirable and property values rise.