Near the turn of the century fireplaces were a household necessity for keeping warm and cooking. Nowadays fireplaces are for aesthetics. There is a tradition and mystic that surrounds wood burning fireplaces that make them a cherished amenity for traditional homeowners.
If you have ever experienced a wood burning fireplace growing up you are familiar with the hallmark crackle of drywood catching flame. This familiar sound can bring back nostalgia of fond memories, and demarcate new ones. For me, the smell of a wood fire always reminds me of memories of camping and sitting around the campfire. Wood fires are especially a treat during winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or important family gatherings like graduations and weddings.
The most popular location for a wood burning fireplace is in the living room. Owners love the feeling of romance a wood fire beckons like a line from a John Keats poem. Wood fireplaces create atmosphere. A big mantel above the hearth is a focal point in a traditional living room, and adds formality when entertaining.
When I am at a party, you will usually find me close to the fire. I personally enjoy watching the flames pirouette across the surface of a log like sinuous ballet dancers, and it is great for day dreaming!
In 2009 Southern California passed legislation banning building wood burning fireplaces in new construction. Don’t worry if you already have a wood burning fireplace, you are grandfathered in. The ban just prevents new wood burning fireplaces from being built. There were two reasons for the ban: to prevent air pollution and lower the risk of wildfires
Tips for Getting a Wood Fire Going
1) you need to buy some wood!
Where to buy wood? Your local grocery store usually sells small bundles for $10 each if you only have a fire every once in a while. Otherwise you will want to visit a firewood yard where you can load up! They sell wood by the 1/4, 1/2 and full chord and prices can range from $200-$400 and that is a lot of wood!
Make sure that you buy wood that is bigger pieces that will burn for a long time and smaller pieces called ‘kindling’ that will make it easy to get a fire started.
You want to buy dry wood. When a tree is freshly cut the wood has a high moisture content. Over time the wood dries which is called seasoning. It takes six months or a year for firewood to fully season and reach a moisture content of 20% or less which is ideal for burning. If you burn green wood or wet wood it will make a lot of smoke and make your chimney dirty.
2) Fireplace Tools
Buy a set if you don’t own one. This might sound stupid but you don’t want to touch the fire or burning wood or hot charcoals with your hands… A nice set of fireplace tools are a must have so that you can move logs around with the tongs or poker, and clean up the ash in the fireplace afterward with the broom and dust pan.
3) Fireplace Screen
Having an open hearth can be dangerous if someone stumbles or reaches in. Discourage people from getting too close to the fire with a screen.
4) Open the Flue
There is a damper in the chimney that can be closed or opened. The damper is designed to prevent the outside temperature to mix with the controlled indoor climate while the fireplace is not in use. Make sure that the fireplace is open before you try to start a fire or there is going to be a lot of smoke, you can pop your head in the firebox and look up to if you can see into the flue. There should be a draft.
5) Lighting the fire
Crumple up Newspapers and stuff them between the kindling. Place a few big logs at the base so that they will catch on fire after the kindling burns. Light a match and set the newspaper on fire in a few places. If the stack of wood you made has good airflow the fire should start fairly easily.
Taking care of your fireplace
One of the drawbacks of wood burning fireplaces versus gas fireplaces is that they are messy and require routine maintenance. Its a labor of love to enjoy the real thing.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that wood burning fireplaces should be cleaned once each year. If you use your fireplace frequently I would stick with this guideline. If you use the fireplace rarely, then once every couple of years is sufficient.
Soot, also called Creosote, is tiny unburned solid particles and oils left over from the wood. These particles are flammable and stick to the walls of your chimney. Overtime if your fireplace is not cleaned this soot can build up and may become a fire hazard. Chimney fires are dangerous and totally preventable with occasional fireplace cleanings.
I recommend to hire a Chimney Sweep to clean your chimney
Getting out the Soot Stains
After using your fireplace frequently, you might start getting soot stains around the mantel. Usually this is because you are building fires that are too big, or burning fires without opening the flue, or burning green wood.
To clean the fireplace you can mix baking soda and cleaning vinegar in a bucket of hotwater for a natural cleaning agent and scrub, scrub, scrub.
Otherwise purchase stonecleaner from your local Home Depo or Lowes.
Park Westwood Tower
969 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles CA 90024
Park Westwood Tower is a 14 story High Rise condominium built in 1961 that is 135 units. Park Westwood Tower is across the street from UCLA and walking distance to Westwood Village. Condos on the upper floors have great views! The building is full service so expect everything you would get on the Wilshire Corridor in a UCLA adjacent location.
Park Westwood tower is located literally across the street from UCLA in Westwood. One block east is the residential estates of Holmby Hills. Hilgard Avenue was once known as “sorority row” back in the 1930s because there are many historic Spanish buildings that housed students. A little Westwood history: Hilgard Avenue is named after Eugene Woldemar Hilgard (1833-1916) who was a geologist of worldwide notoriety at the university of California Berkley.
Across the street from Park Westwood Tower is the swanky and ivy covered W Westwood. The W Hotel in Westwood has a bar/lounge called Whiskey Blue that has a DJ and pretty cool interior design as well as bliss spa.
When you want to go out for a drink or grab a bite to eat, you will probably be walking to Westwood Village, which has a plethora of dining and entertainment options. Consider yourself lucky, because parking in Westwood Village can be a real bear. Historic landmarks in Westwood include old art deco theaters Fox Theater and Bruin Theater which occasionally play host to a big Hollywood movie premier. There is UCLA’s Royce Hall which has performances from all over the world including: Speakers, Opera, Ballet, Symphony, and jazz. UCLA also hosts the UCLA Film Festival and Jazz Reaggea fest each year and has a wonderful extension program.
Westwood Village has three major grocery chains: Ralphs, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s and a Target, so the day to day chores are easy. In addition since you are in Westwood, there is excellent Persian food everywhere, especially on Westwood Blvd.
Berber Carpet, well lit hallway
Park Westwood Tower has 135 condos that are one bedroom floorplans and two bedroom floorplans ranging in price from $400,000 to $600,000. The architecture of the building is midcentury which corresponds with the year it was built in 1961.
Units can vary quite a lot of finish quality, many have been updated. The kitchen is right off the front door and its a U shaped kitchen that opens with a breakfast bar into a large combined living room/dining room area. Corner units will get windows on both sides, interior units will only have a floor to ceiling sliding glass door at the opposite side of the living room.
This balcony has been enclosed or extra living space
Originally built with balconies, many owners have enclosed the balconies to get more square footage. This square footage is not reflected in the public records so be aware of that when you are looking, the condo might be slighly bigger than advertised.
(84) 1 bedrooms ranging in size from 650 sqft to 800 sqft
(51) 2 bedrooms ranging in size from 900 sqft to 1,000 sqft
All condos are single story and have low cielings.
most of hte balconies are enclosed now since they are little units this makes sense
Turnover Ratio: 5%
-Heated Swimming Pool + Spa
There is no Gym
Parking & Laundry
1 Parking space for 1bedrooms and 2 parking spaces for 2 bedrooms in subterraine gated parking garage. Laundry isCommunity laundry in a laundry room. Is Laundry allowed to be installed inside the unit?
Address: Club California
10982 Roebling Ave
Los Angeles CA 90024
Club California is a low rise courtyard style condo building located in Westwood walking distance to UCLA. There are 212 condos in Club California which are 80% 1 bedrooms. California Club is one of two large condo complexes in the UCLA area, the other is the highrise 969 Hilgard. What makes Club California different from other 5-10 unit condo’s in the area is it’s many amenities and right next to UCLA location.
Club California was built in 1973 as an apartment complex and then converted to condominiums in 2005-2006.
Only 30% of Club California condos are owner occupied which means 70% are rentals. This can cause a problem when trying to get a loan for a new purchase because most lenders like to see no more than 50% of the condos being used as rentals. Don’t be discourage – there are lenders out there who will lend in this building you just have to look.
WHY To BUY!
Affordability- low prices and HOA dues
Walk to UCLA + Medical school
Security, night time security guard 4 nights a week + security cameras + subterranean gated parking
For Investment- great rental condo
You are a basketball player
You are looking for a 1 bedroom condo
California Club is located in the city of Westwood and just a 5 minute walk to UCLA and Westwood Village.
Westwoold Village is a small scale retail and shopping area, that is really the heart of the UCLA and has a ivy league college town feel. The main shopping destination is the local Target/Ralphs located at Weyburn and Glendon. There is also a Trader Joes and Whole foods for grocery shopping. The village is pedestrian friendly with wide side walks, huge cross walks, and long timers on the lights so that it is easy to travel on foot.
The majority of the businesses in Westwood Village are restaurants, which give you a variety of dinning options. For fine dinning, there is Napa Valley Grille which has an amazing outdoor patio and Palomino. There are cafés, dinners, bars and burger places, and fast food chains like In’N’Out and Chipotle.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Westwood Village is the historic Fox Theater at the intersection of Broxton and Weyburn. You can’t miss it, it has a 170 foot art deco tower that lights up at night like a beacon. Over the years many Hollywood blockbusters have premiered there.
Another locale point of interest is the hammer museum. They are very active, and try to highlight local Los Angeles artists, but also get exhibits from all over the world. The Los Angeles Film Fesitival is held at the hammer every year, typically attendance is around 100,000.
One of my first memories of Westwood Village was going to a hookbar called Habibi’s when I was in highschool and smoking hooka. Well, Habibi’s is still there! and favorite spot for locals.
Student with a sweet tooth know where to get their sugar fix: Diddy Riese which makes delicious chocolate chip cookies. There is always a line in front of this place!
One more westwood village spot I’d like to put on your radar is Pressed Juicery. I don’t know if you are into the pressed juice health crazebut this place has some really interesting fresh juices.
California Club was an apartment conversion, which means that there are thinner walls, community laundry room, and wall AC which is typical for condo conversions. The Developer had one standard finish package that they did for each unit. The kitchens look like this:
# of Condos
800sqft to 400 sqft
1250sqft 850 sqft
California Club is 80% 1 bedrooms which rent for $2,000/month and the rest is 2 bedrooms that rent for $3,200.
HOA dues are low at $400 per month, but expect a less frequent maintenance routine like carpet cleaning in the hallways.
Prices for 2bedroom prices peaked in 2006 at $700,000-$750,000. There is a 2 bedroom that just came on the market testing $700,000 price mark again. The other 2 bedrooms that have sold so far $600,000.
One bedrooms are selling for $400,000 but peaked in 2006 for $550,000. The studios currently are selling at $300,000. Most units have a private balcony.
Some of the floor plans are town home style, but majority are single story floor plans.
Typically about 15 condos sell a year which is a turnover ratio is ~7%.
–Pool, the pool is outsideand faces south. It has lounge chairs for tanning and hanging out by the pool on a hot summer day. The Cabanas great for putting food/drinks/coolers out.
-Gym, the gym has flat screen TVs on the wall so you can watch your favorite TV show while you work out. The gym has a good combination of Cardio equipment: Treadmills, ellipticals, cycling machines, and strength training: circuit machines and free weights. There’s also space to do stretching, yoga, pilates, etc.
-Lounge with Billard tables, There is a large lounge for hanging out with wifi, a TV, a bar, pool table, and card table and chairs. Great for hosting a party for special events.
-Basketball Court (Half court)
Practice those free-throws, play a game of pig, or a pickup game. A Basketball court is very uncommon amenity. Usually you have to go to a park nearby to play basketball.
Parking & Laundry
There are several common area laundry rooms around the property. This can be a real drag when you have to wait in line on Sunday to do your laundry. If you do laundry on the weekdays you shouldn’t have a problem.
California club has a gated subterranean parking garage which is great because it keeps your car off the street- which means no broken windows or parking tickets, and out of the sun, so for darker paint colors like black and red less paint fading. There are two entrances to the garage both on Roebling.
One level of the parking garage is ground level and the other is one level below that. Some residents have complained that the parking spaces are narrow but they seem normal to me.
2 bedrooms for the most part have two parking spaces but some only have 1 parking space so be sure to check. The 1 bedrooms all have 1 parking space.
Home Owners Association
HOA Due Cost? ~ $400/Month
HOA dues cover? Included in Dues: Trash, water, basic building insurance, Common Area Maintenance
Owner Responsible for? Electricity, Gas, Cable, Internet
1940 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles CA 90068
Highland Terraces is a trendy and exciting Hollywood Condo built in 1982 and updated with a 1.7M renovation in 2012. The building is the best value for your money for condos in the Hollywood area- selling at $100,000 to $200,000 less than other comparable Hollywood condo buildings like The Hollywood, Hollywood Versailles Tower, Franklin Towers, W Hollywood, Lofts at Hollywood and Vine, Broadway and the HOA dues are very affordable at $400-$600 a month compared to the high rises that are $1,000 a month plus. There are 81 condos in the building so it falls somewhere inbetween a small condo building (10-20 condos) and a megaplex (150+ condos) like Cahuenga Tennis club up the street which is an even better value but less walkable. There is definitely a strong sense of community in the building and you will get to know some of your neighbors. Highland Terrace condos are almost all two bedroom and two baths and are a good size ranging from 1,100sqft to 1,400 sqft.
The building is a three story lowrise courtyard style building. Sorry no views- look at some of the Hollywood highrises if view is a must have feature but expect to spend quite a bit more. Socialites will enjoy courtyard facing condos where the full sized pool is the focus of summer and spring activities, while those who value privacy may prefer to face outside where it is more quiet. There are a number of trendy hot spots nearby to fill up your evenings and weekends.
Being located just a block north of world famous Hollywood Blvd, Highland Terraces is close to one of Los Angeles top tourist destinations- the Hollywood walk of fame. There is constant stream of people walking up and down Hollywood from all over the world, whether they are looking for their favorite star- watching a movie at the Chinese Grauman theater, shopping for gifts to bring home, or going out on the town to some of Los Angeles top nightclubs- there is always something going on on Hollywood Blvd.
One perk of Highland Terraces location is that it is walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl! Parking and traffic jams can be a real drag during Bowl Season, now you don’t have to worry about all that. All you have to do is grab your picnic basket and bottle of wine and hoof it. For those of us who don’t live in Highland Terraces, I suggest taking an uber or lyft and leave your car at home!
Highland Terraces is close to a MTA Redline subway station at Hollywood and Highland which is great if you are a frequent downtown commuter.
Highland is a busy street, one of my favorite things about Highland Terraces is that it has a second entrance off Las Palmas, this makes it really easy to come and go. One of my favorite local spots is the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley with cosmic bowling in the Hollywood and Highland shopping complex .
The Hollywood and Highland shopping complex has some very interesting architecture with giant elephants on pedestals and Egyptian hieroglyphs. It’s a pretty interesting building.
The Gothic architecture of Hollywood United Methodist church is beautiful and always a welcome site coming home.
There are a ton of bars, clubs, and restaurants which is the number one reason many people choose to live near Hollywood Blvd. The clubs are a revolving door changing their names every six months or a year, but the locations stay the same. I personally love the Roosevelt Hotel’s pool which is perfect to lounge around during the day or evening on a summer weekend.
Easy access to the 101 freeway makes commuting to the valley easy if you work for a big studio like Warner Bros. or Disney. The historic neighborhood of Whitley Heights is directly behind Highland Terraces, though with its funky winding hillside streets you won’t have much of a reason to go there.
Prices made a big jump in Highland Terraces after the renovation by about $100,000- I still think the building is undervalued for what you get. In an average year there is anywhere between 5-10% turnover, which means about 4-8 condos sell a year. The building is contemporary architecture with angular cubes. There are a couple 1 bedroom units, but almost all the condos are Single Story Two Bedroom and Two Bath. On the top floor there are several Two Story three bedroom condos with very high ceilings and a loft bedroom up a spiral staircase. Gas stove.
Big closets, spacious living room and dinning areas. The Balconies are smaller than usual so you probably won’t use them. Living rooms have a gas fireplace. Master bedroom suite with its own private bathroom, large bedroom space, and a walk in closet. One thing that I think is weird is there are no doorbells! Don’t ask me why. Central Heating and Air. In unit wash and dryer.
Prices range from 400K -600K
-Full Size Pool (not heated) with long pool hours, + spa, +outdoor BBQ area
-Gym with new equipment but its not huge.
Parking & Laundry
Each condo gets two tandem parking spaces in one of three gated garages. With almost 25 guest parking spaces there is plenty of guest parking! Two entrances- the one on highland in front of the building is the main entrance, and the entry on Las Palmas make it very convenient to come and go.
Laundry is stacked in the condo.
Home Owners Association
HOA Dues? $400-$600/per month
HOA dues cover? Trash, Water, Building Insurance, EQ insurance, Common Area Maintance
HOA dues exclude? Electricity, Gas, Cable, Internet
Any special assessments? Not currently but HOA wants to do more improvements
8455 Fountain Ave
West Hollywood 90069
Fountainview is a Mid-Rise courtyard style condo building built in 1975. There are several fountains spread about the property that make pleasing water sounds and enhance the natural beauty. The architecture has a European flair with a beautiful entry gate with wrought iron door. The complex has 94 condos and offers a wide variety of spacious floor plans ranging from 1,200-2,000 sqft, some are single story and others are townhouse style layouts.
Fountainview is located near the intersection of La Cienega and Fountain and Westview Towers. Fountain Avenue is a busy street, so condos that are street facing will get some traffic noise, the trade off for those is since they are south facing the get very good light.
There is a huge construction project going on just north of Fountainview that will be creating a lot of noise and dust for a year or two. I heard that the developers of the project gave Fountainview’s HOA a pretty hefty chunk of money for the inconvenience so expect to see some sprucing up around the property over the next couple of years.
Fountainview is sandwiched between Santa Monica Blvd and the Sunset Strip. There is a great little bistro down the street on La Cienega that is perfect for lunch or dinner, and the boutique hotel Pali House is great for visiting friends and family. On Friday nights, Pali House has live music.
The hill near the top of La Cienega is pretty steep so you will probably end up driving a lot rather than walking, but Fountainview is a short 5 minutes away from anything in West Hollywood.
There are a lot of different floor-plans in Fountainview. The main two types of floorplans are: single story and townhouse style:
One of the big selling points of fountainview are the large sizes of the condos – they are quite spacious.
The first time you visit it might feel like you are in a labyrinth. The hallways turn and twist and it’s pretty easy to get lost! There are four elevators that can help guide the way- they are labeled by direction North, East, South and West.
The elevators work but are old and should be replaced. The HOA has been putting off replacing the elevators because it is expensive.
The Building is a courtyard style with a large swimming pool in the center. Interior condos look into the courtyard, while the exterior condos have varying levels of views. There are a bunch of trees across the grounds that add a lot of green.
Inside the condos- they have a formal entry, separate Kitchen, Living Rooms, and Dinning Rooms.
The living rooms are large enough for two full coaches, and big flat screen TV and have a wet bar, and gas fireplace. The living room connects to a balcony in some units and has huge floor to ceiling windows.
Condos have a Formal Dinning room with trayed ceilings that seat 4-6 people.
Kitchens aren’t the greatest in fountainview considering how large the floorplans are the kitchens aren’t very big. They are generally Galley or occassionally an L layout with the in unit Laundry in the kitchen. There is no Pantry in the kitchens but it can be added with some changing of the cabinets. Sorry, kitchens aren’t that roomy so it’s not really an eat in kitchen.
Some of the condos can be a little dark depending what is their exposure. Going with a lighter paint color, and lighter wood flooring will help brighten things up.
People tend to stay in Fountainview for a long time. 20% of the building is longtime owners. In an average year, 4 -5 fountainview condos sell a year, which is about a 5% turnover which is quite low.
-Living Room has gas fireplace and wetbar
-High Ceilings (in townhouses only)
-Rooftop terraces (in townhouse only)
-In unit laundry
– Pool (with 7″ deep end)and Spa
-Meeting Room (with Kitchen)
-Extra Storage Room
(There is a sauna and small indoor pool also)
Parking & Laundry
Laundry is in unit in the kitchen (gas or electric? room for stackable or side by side?). Every condo gets 2 parking spots (side by side or tandem) in a subterraine and gated parking garage. In addition there are (X) guest parking spots.
Home Owners Association
HOA dues range from $650-$500 per month. The HOA wants to keep the HOA dues low for the residents, so they tend to repair things instead of replace, and only fix things when they must.
1355 N Sierra Bonita Ave
Los Angeles CA 90046
Bonita Villas is a 42 unit, 4 story, mid-rise condo building in West Hollywood. All of the condos are 1 bedroom and single story- which makes them very affordable considering their great location. Built in 1986 as an apartment building by Leonard Krane who also built two other buildings on the street-1337 Sierra Bonita Ave and 1338 Sierra Bonita Ave, they almost look identical to Bonita Villas. Bonita Villas was converted to condominiums in 1991. The HOA in the past five years has been very active in Bonita Villas to make improvements to the building. The roof was redone in 2009, the gym was recently redone, and exterior landscaping 2014-more improvements are planned on the way.
1355 N Sierra Bonita is very walkable, with several great restaurants and bars within walking distance on Sunset. Some of my favorite local favorites are: El Compadre, Sunset Grill, Zankou Chicken, Chipotle, Pinkberry, El Pollo Loco. For bars check out Lubaviche, or Laurel Hardware for trendy spots, or Pikeys or the woods if you want a great dive. Mashiti Malones may not look it, but they serve some of the best homemade ice cream in the city. For groceries – Rock and Roll Ralphs, or the whole foods at Santa Monica and Fairfax.
Being in West Hollywood/Hollywood area there is plenty of entertainment and night life, whether it is the West Hollywood Halloween carnival, or the Hollywood Fringe festivals, or a movie opening there is always something fun an exciting going on in the neighborhood.
One huge plus of Bonita Villas location is that it’s close to Runyon. The building has a pretty liberal pet policy- you can have up to two dogs or cats, 50 lbs weight limit, so there are definitely quite a few dog lovers who live in the building. Pet or no pet, Runyon is a great place to get some good exercise and enjoy some great city views. Just a few blocks West is the historic neighborhood of Spaulding Square which is also very nice for a stroll.
The neighborhood is very safe, sometimes you get some crazys or a few homeless here or there but they don’t bother anybody. This section of Seirra Bonita has a lot of apartment buildings, so the neighborhood mix is mainly renters.
There are 3 floors and 14 units per floor. Half the units are street facing and the other half faces the back. The Street facing units get better light, and the units in the back have more quiet and privacy.
Street Facing View
All the condos are 1brs, that are mainly 706 sqft. The 01 stack has the largest units at 783 sqft. The ’14 stack has the smallest condos at 592 sqft.
Prices for Bonita Villas depend on if the condos are original or remodeled. Right now they are selling for $350,000. Two to three units sell a year for about a 10% turnover ratio.
There are no trash shoots on each floor which is a bit of a drag. That means you have to haul your garbage down to the parking garage where the trash room is. Not the end of the world but a minor inconvenience. The hallways are dated and could use new carpet. HOA says that is on the list of improvements. The building reserves are around $40,000 so there are definitely going to be some small special assessments over the next few years as they do these projects.
There is some settlement going on in this building, which is fairly common for buildings this age so don’t be shocked if you feel a slight slope in the floors- there is nothing wrong with the building, the settlement is occurring from poor quality construction and not a major issue. An insider tip- be very careful with units located on the 4th floor beneath the rooftop pool- when there are heavy rains the pool tends to overflow and units underneath the pool have leaks. The last couple years hasn’t been bad because we are in a drought but expect to have some problems if you buy one of these units.
The floor plans inside the condo have a kitchen, open living room/dining room that opens with sliding glass door to a balcony, shuttered Bedroom area, bathroom and large walk in closet. The space is well layer out.
– Plantain Shutter Room Dividers
– Central A/C
– Large Walk in Closet
– Gas Fireplace in Living Room
-Rooftop Pool and Spa (hours?)
– Security Cameras
Parking & Laundry
Parking is secure in a Gated parking garage. Most units have 1 parking space, however some have 2. Community Laundry room located off the main lobby. Washing machines/dryers are not permitted inside the unit.
Home Owners Association
HOA dues are $275 per month for each units.
HOA dues cover: Garbage, Water, Common Area Maintenance, Insurance
Owner Pays: Electric, Gas, Internet, Cable
Special assessments? No Special Assessments, but likely in the future
Pets: 2 pets max, 45 lbs weight restriction.
Rental Policy? must own 2 years before renting. 30% of condos may be leased maximum.
Address: Cynthia Del Sol HOA 9005 Cynthia St #119 West Hollywood CA 90069
9005 Cynthia is a 60 unit, courtyard style mid-rise condo building with mostly 1br condos located in Norma Traingle neighborhood of West Hollywood. The building currently is undergoing a modern transformation. In 2009-2010, the exterior was re-stuccoed and painted grey and the interior is scheduled to be renovated next. These improvements will raise the value of condos in the building- the original 1974 Spanish design has become dated.
Hammond looking North
West Hollywood Elementary, Le Montrose Hotel and the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills are some of 9005 Cynthia’s closest neighbors. I am told that you can’t hear the church on Sundays, but I would make sure if you are sensitive to noise. Hammond street has a steep slope so it can be a bit of a hike to go up to Sunset Blvd or down to Santa Monica (on the way back that is). The East/West streets in Norma Traingle are great for walking with sidewalks, low traffic, and great scenery. The area is very safe and you can walk at night alone. From 9005 Cynthia you are literally 1 block from border of Beverly Hills.
Of the 60 units the majority are 1 bedrooms. 9005 Cynthia is one of the top 1 bedroom condo buildings in the area.
43: 1 bedrooms from 650 sqft to 750 sqft
17: 2 bedrooms (some with lofts on 4th floor) from 800 sqft to 1,050 sqft
Units have a large Dinning Room/Living Room area and open Kitchen. Some of the condos have front doors across from each other while others do not – I personally think that it is a negative, but it doesn’t really make any difference. Original condition condos can be very dated- however many owners have remodeled the kitchens and bathrooms and did new flooring that really gives these condos a modern feel.
Living Room 2
No Central Heat or Air, each unit has a wall mounted AC. Most of the condoss have pretty old ACs but some of them are new.
Each unit comes with a modest balcony with two floor to ceiling sliding glass doors.
Because of limited space the bathroom is has a combined tub/shower. The original design has the sink in the hallway and the Tub/Shower and toilet behind a closing door. I think this is a little wierd- they should all be in one room.
The Bedroom is a good size, maybe 12×14 feet or so.
Overall the floorplan uses the space very well so even though these condos aren’t the largest, they don’t feel cramped.
The condos are 1 level and the building does have an elevator, so that minimizes stairs. I still think this is a younger persons building because the steep slope of Hammond makes avoiding walking any stairs difficult, although it can be done.
Closet and Storage space is adequate. Some owners put a storage shed in their parking space to increase storage.
-Pool House (located adjacent to pool. HOA meetings held there, can be reserved for parties, just a sink and table and chairs + bathroom)
Parking & Laundry
Like many condo buildings in this price range, there is no in unit laundry. There is one community laundry room located in the parking garage with an entrance off Hammond. The HOA is going to be updating the machines to accept credit cards which will be great because anyone who has used coin operated laundry knows, that quarters become a very precious commodity. I recommend buying a $10 roll of quarters while you are at the grocery store, this is the easiest way to make sure you have enough quarters.
Cynthia Parking Garage
Some one bedrooms have 1 parking spot, while others have 2. Make sure you double check how many spaces there are. From what I can tell the parking space assignments are somewhat kooky. One spot might be in a totally separate garage than the other.
The parking garage has two levels and two entrances, one entrance on Cynthia and the other on Hammond. Hammond further up the street has road blockers that go up at night so Doheny or San Vicente is best streets to take after dark.
Since 9005 Cynthia is light on amenities, it also has low HOA dues that range from $300-$400 per month. One of 9005 Cynthia’s fancier neighbors is the 999 Doheny Building which has higher prices and HOAs than 9005 Cynthia but great views! The HOA has been very active updating the building. In five years this building will be totally modernized. The only drag is that the outside looks really great but the courtyard is kind of drab right now for the time being.
The Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract is a group of 52 homes that was built in 1948 by famous modern architect Gregory Ain and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo. This project is probably his most well known. What make Ain’s tract home different from other tract homes being developed at the time was that his were modern. During the 1950s, there was a huge building boom and several hundred tract homes were being built in Los Angeles each week. The tract homes were predominantly ranch styles houses like the tract houses built in nearby Mar Vista neighborhoods of McLaughlin and Westdale.
Gregory Ain’s Modern homes are located in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles and can be found on the SE intersection of Palms Blvd and Beethoven St. The homes run along Meier, Moore, and Beethoven streets, between Palms Boulevard and Marco Place.
Gregory Ain’s ‘Social’ Architecture
Gregory Ain was raised by Socialist parents. Their philosophy influenced him deeply. Ain believed that he could solve many of the world’s problems by developing low cost cooperative housing. Unfortunately, his ideals didn’t match up with the American consumer or economics, and his projects had to be sold to individual owners when marketing them as cooperatives failed to produce buyers.
For an architect as talented as Ain, he could have had a very lucrative career designing large commercial buildings or expensive custom homes for wealthy clients, but he dedicated his life to his beliefs and building affordable housing for the working class. In an ironic twist, nowadays the working class can no longer afford Ain’s homes!
Harmonious Design with a Park-Like Setting
Ain succeeded in creating a family-friendly neighborhood. With the Large front yard setback there was plenty of room for children to run around and play, the streets had limited traffic (except Beethoven!) and were excellent for kids to play on the street. Although the developers did not provide parks, the idea was for front lawns to remain unbroken by fences to provide a park-like atmosphere.
The efficient layout of the homes allowed a family of three or four to function comfortably in a relatively small space (1,050-1,400 sqft).
The streetscape was designed by Eckbo and plays a large role in the overall feeling of the community. Ain and Eckbo wanted there to be a cohesive feeling to the neighborhood, but not have every home be identical. Eckbo accomplished this by planting different types of trees on each of the streets that gave each street its own streetscape. One interesting fact: there are no street lights!
Trees: Ficus on Beethoven
Trees: Melaleuca (Native to Australia) along Moor
Trees: and Magnolia Trees on Meier.
The Melaleuca trees on Moor are my favorite. Ain and Eckbo planned to have no separation or fences between the lots of each house and create ‘communal backyards’. This idea didn’t catch on with the new owners who valued privacy in their backyards. They quickly put up fences after they bought (some even complained about the extra expense to put up the fences which they felt should have been included in the original design)
One thing I love about these houses is the location of the kitchen- it is right in front of the houses just off the front door. This allows Mom or dad to keep an eye on the kids when they are playing out front inside from a big window over the kitchen sink. The Houses that are Rotated perpendicular do not have this set up, but conversely they have much better curb appeal.
Common of the mid century modern design elements, these houses have horizontal lines from flat roofs, and floor to ceiling glass that lets in the maximium amount of light. The Kitchen, Dinning Room, and Living Room were all open to each other.
One solution Ain thought up was flexibility for a 3rd bedroom or den but using a folding wall panel that could easily be opened or closed depending on the owners needs.
To keep things different Ain altered the facades of the tract homes by changing the garage placement or rotating some of the houses perpendicular to the street. He also used different paint colors.
The subdivision was marketed as “Modernique” Homes. Sales started slowly, and sold out after one year. Originally the developers had planned on two phases that would contain 100 houses on 60 acres, however only the first phase of 52 homes was realized. Even with Ain’s best effort to keep costs down, these houses were more expensive than comparable size tract homes in the area. The original selling prices for a Mar Vista Modernique home was $12,000
Believe it or not, yes you can own a piece of history! Most owners who buy a Gregory Ain Mar Vista track stay there for a quite a long time. It is not uncommon for owners to stay 30 years plus. The average turnover ratio is very low at 2.5% a year. About 1 house sells a year on average.
The homes are modest 3 bedrooms. The average size is 1,400 sqft. Originally built as 1 story houses, the HPOZ prevents second stories from being added. Average lot size is 7,000 sqft. Historically these homes have appreciated at a rate of 6.5% which is higher than the average for other homes in the neighborhood. Homes in good condition are selling for $1.2M.
Homes on Beethoven will be less than Moor or Meier because Beethoven is a busy street and the other side of the street is a separate subdivision so these homes don’t get the full effect of the neighborhood feeling Ain created.
The Neighborhood is in excellent shape. It is really fun to give it a drive through. Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract Became an hpoz in 2003 which was quite an accomplishment considering it was just barely over 50 years old then which is usually the minimum amount of time required to be considered for being historic. The HPOZ restricts building second stories, tearing down a home, or installing front yard fences. Mar Vista Ains houses that have already had additions are grandfathered in. Basically, the HPOZ protects the front façades (anything that is visible from the street). One perk of being located in an HPOZ is contributing structures are eligible for the Mills Act, a state program that provides tax break for owners of historic property in order to allow them to preserve it.
West Hollywood is bordered by Hollywood Hills on the north, Miracle Mile on the south, Hollywood on the east, and Beverly Hills on the west.
The Pacific Design Center is the most recognizable building in West Hollywood
Santa Monica and San Vicente Rainbow Walk
West Hollywood City Hall, Sweetzer and Santa Monica
-West Hollywood West
CITY OF ADULTS
West Hollywood, sometimes referred to as Weho by its residents, is a creative, energetic, and walkable modern city. In the past ten years West Hollywood has gentrified like crazy! Today, West Hollywood is one of the priciest medium size home neighborhoods in LA. The city has a large annual budget surplus (unlike the city of LA), which it aggressively reinvests in programs and infrastructure. A few recent city projects include: the makeover of Santa Monica Blvd – $34M completed 2001, the West Hollywood Library- $64M completed 2011, and the West Hollywood Park -$80M 2017
West Hollywood has a population of 35,000 people, but only a total area of 1.9 square miles which makes the city very dense, averaging 18,000 people per square mile. For comparison, Beverly Hills has a similar population but almost 3 times as much land. Space is definitely at a premium in West Hollywood.
West Hollywood is a net importer of jobs, tourists, and shopping. It’s day time population doubles to 60,000- which is great for the economy, but makes for horrendous parking and traffic. If you have ever parked in West Hollywood in a permit parking zone or forgot to put a coin in the meter, you know that there will be a parking ticket tucked under your windshield wiper when you get back to your car! Parking enforcement is extremely aggressive.
COMMUNITY WITH PRIDE
There are very few families with children in West Hollywood (maybe only 5-10% of population) however I think that trend is changing. Many families are discovering how nice a place West Hollywood is to live.
People in West Hollywood take a lot of pride in their community. They have a pride festival each year, that is open for anyone to attend, that is a celebration of being yourself. There is also an annual Halloween Festival that is one of the biggest street festivals in the US- West Hollywood knows how to party!
West Hollywood is one of the youngest cities in Los Angeles (it was incorporated in 1984). As a result, the way the city is run is very modern and progressive. West Hollywood has a city wide ban on Fur, Plastic Grocery Bags, and was one of the first cities to adopt green building codes.
If you look at the history of West Hollywood, it resisted incorporation many times. In 1984 a coalition of several different groups in the community coalesced to become a city. These groups still make up the fabric of the city today.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s many Gay and Lesbian came to West Hollywood as a refuge- at that time the prices were very cheap (not like today!), and since it was an unincorporated part of Los Angeles county, police and other political groups which were ignorant and homophobic didn’t have any influence. The LGBT community is still strong and thriving in West Hollywood.
Another big part of the coalition was Russian Jews who fled Russia when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. West Hollywood has the second largest Russian Speakers population in the US, behind only New York. There are Russian book shops and restaurants all around the city. A lot Russians retirees are a fixture at Plummer Park, where they play chess and socialize.
The vast majority of Residents in West Hollywood are renters. Renters account for 78% of the population. Renters are concentrated in the East and Central Sections whereas West Hollywood West and Norma Triangle are mainly single family homes. Renters joined the coalition because they feared the city of Los Angeles would not pass Rent Control and they wanted rent control in West Hollywood. West Hollywood has rent control and its only second to Santa Monica for its harshness to landlords.
Today, people from all over the world mix and share their stories in a melting pot that is West Hollywood. West Hollywood is very Diverse, and tolerant. It’s no secret, that politically the area is also very liberal.
The last thing I’d like to mention about the West Hollywood community, is that they are very Fitness and health conscious. There are a ton of organic restaurants and health food grocery stores, and a huge number of gyms. People like to stay in shape, either to attract attention and show off or just to feel their best.
West Hollywood is always buzzing with the city life. It is very urban. I consider West Hollywood to be one of the best areas in Los Angeles for socializing. Many people travel from the surrounding areas (Hollywood Hills, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, Mid Wilshire, The Valley) to go out for the evening in West Hollywood. West Hollywood has great dinning, nightlife, bars and shopping. Is culture and night life important to you? Check out Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles- these areas also have a vibrant nightlife. People in West Hollywood love going out and living it up on the weekends.
Pacific Design District, Melrose Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Fred Segal, Beverly Center (not in West Hollywood but close enough!), West Hollywood Gateway (Target and Bestbuy- with great parking!)
Runyon Canyon, Plummer Park (7 tennis courts!), West Hollywood Park, William S Hart Dog Park
During the 1920s there was rapid expansion in Los Angeles. The population increased from 36,000 to 235,000 by the end of the decade. Movie studios from New York relocated to Los Angeles not only for the beautiful weather but to escape Thomas Edison’s patent attorneys (they were stealing his invention the moving picture, and not paying for it). Actors, writers, directors, and people from all over the nation were moving to Los Angeles in droves and needed housing. This demand fueled a development boom in West Hollywood of Lavish and Ornamented Revival Style Apartments and hotels designed by some of the most notable architects of the day, including Leland Bryant, Walter Davis, and self taught architects Arthur & Nina Zwebell. These Historic Apartment are said to have been inspired by the New York City the movie studios left behind, and are concentrated around the intersection of Fountain and Crescent Heights.
Villa Italia (Italiante Style) 1201 Crescent Hieghts Blvd
La Fontaine (French Revival) 1285 Crescent Heights Blvd
Savoy Plaza (French Revival) 1360 Crescent Heights Blvd
Romanesque Villa (Spanish Revival)
1301 N Harper Ave
Other Notable address: El Mirador (1302 Sweetzer Ave), Villa D’est (1355 Laurel Ave), Hayworth Towers (1314 N Hayworth Ave), The Andalusia (1475 Havenhurst Dr), Granville Towers (1424 Crescent Heights), Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd), El Palacio (8491 Fountain Ave), Patio Del Moro (8225 Fountain Ave), Beau Sejour (8320 Fountain Ave), Emser Building (8431 Santa Monica Blvd), Gable & Wyant Commercial Building (8851 Santa Monica Blvd), Harper House (1334 Harper Ave), Flores House (1248 N Flores St), The Four Gables (8250 Fountain Ave), The Villa Primavera (1300 Harper Ave), El Pasader (1330 Harper Ave)
Sherman Bungalows (1900-1910)
West Hollywood started out as a railroad town, with a small group of humble clap board bungalows that houses the local railroad workers and their families. Though many of the original houses have been torn down and developed a handful still remain. They are primarily located in the Norma Triangle neighborhood.
West Hollywood is very pricey, because it is a very desirable area to live- price per square foot for single family homes is currently averaging around $900sqft. Don’t expect to find a house for under $1,000,000 unless it is very small. Some areas of West Hollywood can have safety issues (which you will always have when you live in a big city), these problem areas are most concentrated on the Eastside as you get closer to Hollywood. Overall West Hollywood is an extremely nice place to live.
Space is definitely at a premium in West Hollywood- so don’t expect to find any estates or mansions! The average house size is 1,440 sqft and the average lot size is 5,000sqft. Norma Traingle and West Hollywood West are primarily single family home neighborhoods with single story tiny homes that are 800sqft to more normal size homes of 1,500sqft to 2,000 sqft. There is a trend that started in West Hollywood and has been spreading to Miracle Mile to build two story new construction contemporary homes that routinely sell for $2M-$3M. Some neighbors don’t like how they don’t blend in with the neighborhood aesthetically. However, there is a huge demand for 3,000 to 4,000 sqft homes and there just isn’t any of these size homes in the area so they are selling very well.
Since lot sizes are small, and West Hollywood residents value their privacy, many home owners have put up privacy hedges. In the central area of West Hollywood and the Eastside, there is a big mix on each block between Single Family Houses, Condos, and Apartment buildings. There is very little open space.
Turnover for Houses ranges between 5%-10%. There are only approximately 1,300 single family houses in West Hollywood. The majority of the home inventory is condos-there are approximately 5,600 condos in West Hollywood.
Lloyd Wright Studio
858 N Doheny
Los Angeles CA 90069
858 Doheny was built in 1927 by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright (who is often confused with his father) as his studio and office. Much like Rudolph Schindler home/studio built on Kings drive five years earlier, Lloyd Wright would live and work in this home until his passing in the 1978.
Located at the corner of Doheny Drive and Vista Grande St in the Norma Triangle neighborhood of West Hollywood- the home is on a compact 3,611 square foot corner lot. The Home is two stories with 2 Bedrooms and 2 Baths measuring 2,413 square feet.
The home is built with “Joshua Tree” motif textile blocks, that Lloyd Wright use frequently in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Upstairs is the living space and Lloyd Wright’s architecture office was downstairs.
Lloyd Wright began his architectural career as a landscape architect and his love for greenery and plants is reflected in his studio. He has creeping Ivy that has grown to cover much of the exterior.
The upstairs residence has a large living room with fireplace, angled glass and a large master bedroom. The downstairs studio has an open work space with exposed concrete flooring that connects to a rock outdoor patio.
In 1990 Eric Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson) restored the house. The building is on the national register of historic places and has a conservation easement over its exterior.