Sorry, Westlake, I was wrong

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In February of 2012, I wrote a piece confidently predicting that Westlake, the neighborhood roughly south of Silver Lake and Echo Park and west of Downtown, would never gentrify. Here is my piece in all its glory.

To lazy to click the link? Here’s my (flawed) argument in a nutshell:

  • The housing stock is incredibly dense, lacks parking and is rent controlled, making it very difficult to renovate buildings and achieve sufficiently high rents to make the investment pay-off
  • The crime rate remains quite high and, without wholesale change in the apartment buildings that comprise the neighborhood (which ain’t happening; see above), it’s unlikely that will change any time soon

[Side note: The language in the original piece, including the unfortunate use of the phrase “by force”, is pretty awful. Needless to say, it predates the explosion over Boyle Heights, when I became a bit more sensitive about my choice of words on this site. I left the original post alone because it seems dishonest to change it in retrospect.]

Now, it turns out that Westlake is starting to see the glimmers of improvement, including some new bars and creative office tenants and also some buildings in the early stages of renovation / revitalization.

Why was I so wrong?

It turns out that proximity to the western edge of Downtown, with its rapidly expanding set of amenities (bars, restaurants, clubs, etc.) and high rents ($2000 for a studio?!), is enough to tempt some more adventurous tenants to jump west across the 110.

It’s early enough that the numbers don’t work for my kind of deals. But, depending on what happens over the next few years Downtown, we may all look back on my 2012 Westlake piece as one of the dumber things I’ve ever written on this blog.

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