Friday, July 31, 2009

Arroyo Seco Real Estate Trends

While my passion is river restoration, my professional expertise includes almost 20 years of property acquisition, management and real estate sales & marketing for individuals, corporate clients and non-profit organizations.

Since this was not a pretty week for those who understand the real estate business (9.9% residential mortgage default rate in LA County, commercial real estate now feeling deflation pain, HVCC rules & new loan origination requirements that will lengthen the escrow process, to name a few), I thought it was a good time to pause and share with readers the real estate reasons behind why I live and work in the Arroyo Seco watershed, which includes the communities of Northeast Los Angeles (Highland Park, Garvanza, Hermon, Monterey Hills, Mt Washington, Cypress Park, Montecito Heights, Lincoln Heights), South Pasadena, Pasadena, Altadena and La Canada-Flintridge. (Although Eagle Rock is not technically in the watershed, its adjacent proximity and neighborhood personality reflect Arroyo Culture, so I consider it part of the Arroyo Seco Corridor).

Here are the reasons why I think the Arroyo Lifestyle is terrific:

1. A River Runs Through It. Nationally, almost half our population lives within 125 miles of a coastline. There is something about water that we humans crave. The Arroyo Seco, with its expansive parkland along the upper portion of the watershed and dedicated civic and community support for restoration on the lower watershed, remains one of the oldest and most accessible fresh waterways in urban Southern California.

2. Trees. This riparian corridor has been able to avoid the massive de-foliation that has plagued other revitalized and redeveloped neighborhoods, especially on Los Angeles' Westside. The heat island that encompasses most of LA only touches the southernmost portion of the Arroyo Seco, which is currently being revitalized into a 'green' neighborhood with the innovative Cornfields-Arroyo Seco Specific Plan. Tree canopy also supports ecosystem vitality and wildlife corridor movement.

3. The Gold Line & Multi-Modal Transit. From Pasadena southward within the watershed, it is very easy to commute into downtown and all points on the way via the Gold Line light rail and bicycle. This offers residents transportation options not totally dependent on automobile travel, although the very efficient Arroyo Seco Parkway/Pasadena Freeway will get you downtown pretty quickly, too. Not only are light rail and bicycle commuting a great way to see the neighborhood, but it saves a lot of money and helps us get physical exercise in the process. The region's planning is focused on continuing healthy neighborhood sustainability through an Arroyo Seco Greenway and transit oriented housing.

4. Great Schools. La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena and Eagle Rock public schools are excellent and offer affordable education for families. The Arroyo Seco also boasts several new charter schools, a Pasadena Unified School District that it reinventing itself, and top higher education academies including the California Institute of Technology, Occidental College, and Pasadena City College.

5. Arts & Culture. The Arroyo Seco watershed is home to Los Angeles' oldest museum, The Southwest Museum, as well as such cultural institutions as the Lummis House, Heritage Square Museum, the Huntington Museum & Gardens, Norton Simon Museum, Descanso Gardens and the Eagle Rock Community Arts Center. Among other organizations, the Arroyo Arts Cooperative sponsors numerous gallery events and Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena hosts book signings, classes, and poetry readings.

6. Jobs. Even in this recessionary environment, the Arroyo Seco is surrounded by important employment centers in downtown Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena. In fact, US News & World Report just included Pasadena in its national list of the 15 Government Heavy aand Recession Resistent Cities in the US because of the high employment base of both CalTech and NASA/JPL. Unlike much of Southern California, the Arroyo Seco offers a high quality of life that allows employees to live close to their work center, rather than spending hours on local freeways commuting.

I daily see the positive impact of these factors when I'm listing and showing property for clients in Arroyo Seco neighborhoods. Today, for example, I experienced a frenzy of buyer activity at the Dalton Lofts in Pasadena, new construction adjacent to the Gold Line Del Mar stations whose units will be auctioned off next week. Multiple offers on well-priced properties in all price categories are not uncommon. While the real estate market is definitely still in transition, well-qualified buyers are clearly acting on the current low interest rates, value pricing and long-term upside of the Arroyo Seco corridor.

To paraphrase that old adage, great real estate is all about location, location, location. In my opinion, the communities within the Arroyo Seco watershed provide the best location in the Greater Los Angeles area for high quality California living.

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