Monday, January 16, 2006

Loft Living in The South Bay

The Daily Breeze has an interesting article on 3 new loft projects in San Pedro. As with other urban areas loft living may soon be a way of life for many South Bay residents. They should be completed within the next 18 months and if they sell well you can count or more in the future.

All of the projects are mixed use.. ie commrcial on lower floors and residential on upper floors. The loft concept has worked well on the east coast for years. Portland OR has a whole community.. The Pearl District...which is the hot area in town. Lofts were built in old warehouses along the river. The area features art galleries, trendy restaurants, gyms, bookstores ,a new grocery store and a trolley system that connects to downtown. Prices have risen from the low $200,000 to millions for penthouse units.

In our area Long Beach has revitalized the downtown district with loft units and the Pine Square development. There are more units coming on the market along Pine and prices have really jumped along Ocean Ave.

The Center Street Lofts will be finished sometime this summer. The Center Street lofts are new construction. The Bank Lofts are taking reservations with expectations of one building being completed in the Spring and the other in early summer. The Bank Lofts take their name from the old Wells Fargo Bank building facade which they are using as the exterior of the project. The final project is the La Salle Lofts which will be completed by mid 2007. More projects are being planned for other buildings in the area.

The city and local merchants hope that the lofts and the upgrading of the Harbor area will make downtown San Pedro a go to place. If the concept works... and I think it will.. then residents of San Pedro will finally see a return to a vital downtown and waterfront. The views and freeway access make it a terrific place for people who want to downsize from large homes or don't want a single family home. If shops and restaurants are within walking distance it opens a whole new lifestyle for many of the 55+ set who would like to stay in the area as well as younger people who are looking for a more urban feel to their neighborhood. Most locals have been waiting for years to see the area revitalized and safe again. Little art galleries and restaurants that have held on may finally see the upturn they were promised years ago.

The biggest stumbling block will be cleaning up the neighborhood. What will happen to the homeless and the half way houses that currently occupy the area. There is also the problem with gangs and drug activity. The city will need to figure out something to do with these people as the area upgrades. Los Angeles has it's work cut out to make San Pedro and the Port area a safe place to live and work. The city should have learned a few lessons from projects in downtown LA. Downtown Long Beach has had to deal with upgrading a formerly neglected area. Perhaps the changing nature of the area will finally force the city to deal with many long standing problems that were largely ignored.

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