Investors have descended on this and other communities in Northeast Los Angeles, snatching up bargain-priced character homes located within an easy distance of downtown. It’s an echo of the housing boom, only this time speculators are drawn by the crash in prices.

1920s California Bungalow last summer, purchased for $269k

 

The same 1920s bungalow today, listed at $389k

Attracted by an abundance of foreclosures and aided by interest rates near record lows, renovators are giving distressed properties a makeover. They’re then reselling them to young professionals priced out of nearby Echo Park and Silver Lake, who are finding Highland Park’s bike lanes, Metro Gold Line stop and sidewalk culture a welcome respite from the automobile.

In the process, the neighborhood of working-class Latinos and art-loving bohemians is being transformed into an outpost of hipster cool. Yoga studios, design firms and galleries are sprouting near Mexican grocery stores and auto repair shops.

The changes are stirring a debate not loudly voiced since the boom days: Is an influx of wealthier neighbors a good thing?

For Adam L. Bauer and his brother Logan, the answer is an unequivocal yes. They took the plunge into Highland Park last year, pooling their money to buy a three-bedroom bungalow on a quiet street for $494,000.

Adam Bauer's house, restored by bettershelter. Courtesy LA Times

“We’ve been here since May, and in a two-block radius there have probably been eight homes done,” said Logan, a writer and lifestyle and wellness consultant. “It’s nice that there is still a place where artists or families aren’t priced out of buying a home. And a house that is a good size, that isn’t a shoe box.”

Highland Park’s affordability and somewhat undiscovered status have given it a certain cachet among the hipster set. LA Weekly recently dubbed Highland Park the new cool neighborhood “for those who are ‘over Echo Park.'”

“There is a large inventory of homes to be polished, or flipped, or what have you,” Jones said. “Given the realities of what homes cost in L.A. for a first-time home buyer, they are willing to invest in the future.” – LA Times

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