Cluster Homes Invade L.A.'s Hip Hillsides

Small-lot homes are popping up in the hillsides north of downtown L.A. While the new occupants, often young buyers who can't afford or aren't interested in traditional single-family homes and high-rise condos, are pleased, some neighbors are not.
July 16, 2013, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Real estate reporter Andrew Khouri writes that new "skinny homes on tiny lots are sprouting from the hillsides — a building boom of miniature proportions."

The rectangular structures come in clusters of six or 15, or even 70, and developers are racing to build them in trendy Silver Lake and Echo Park. They're eyeing younger home buyers who crave hip cafes and proximity to work but don't want a sky-high condo or a Craftsman bungalow.

Although the "skinny" homes won't be cheap, they'll be more affordable than traditional single-family homes in the city's pricey neighborhoods.

In Silver Lake, developer Trumark Homes hopes to break ground this summer on 70 small-lot, three-story homes with no backyards, most with rooftop decks. Trumark plans to sell them early next year for between $575,000 and $635,000.

Khouri writes that the "so-called small-lot homes speak to a growing desire for a more compact and walkable Los Angeles, while still clinging to the single-family ideal." But not all are happy.

The homes have their critics, said Jesus Sanchez, founder of the popular neighborhood blog the Eastsider LA, about Echo Park and surrounding areas. Some complain that the clustered homes could spoil the character of a neighborhood characterized by older hillside homes and spacious backyards.

Will the cluster homes help shape the future of Los Angeles, and towards what end?

Architect Christian Návar, whose company has designed many of the new developments, "sees the compact homes as a chance to inject more homeowners into walkable neighborhoods, who will in turn support more businesses. Their popularity, he said, is evidence of a younger generation that wants to live more efficiently."

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Published on Sunday, July 14, 2013 in Los Angeles Times - Real Estate
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