Los Angeles Rising: Trending Neighborhoods and Rising Value

Los Angeles is an ever-changing landscape – ever growing, ever developing and ever expanding. As new streams of residents enter the dense urban landscape, developers are continually building to meet the increasing demand for accessible housing. As cranes dance around Downtown Los Angeles’ skyline, developments continue to pop up in trending hot-spots like Echo Park, Highland Park, and Silver Lake.

Echo Park, Highland Park, and Silver Lake have grown exponentially over the past decade and these so-called “hipster” neighborhoods have become epicenters for gentrification. Although these areas have gone through various stages, history has shown that they have always attracted hip and urban influencers through the allure of untapped potential, ease of accessibility, and a relatively lower cost of living.

These neighborhoods also hold a significance to a larger Los Angeles narrative.

Rooted in Los Angeles’ Cultural DNA

Silver Lake became a refuge for the LGBTQ community in the late sixties, notably shown through the peaceful demonstration in February of 1967 held at the Black Cat Bar. Now a historical monument, the Black Cat Bar was the site for the first documented LGBTQ civil rights demonstration in the nation. Over the past 10 years, Silver Lake has developed into one of the most expensive areas in Los Angeles’ East Side, boasting affluent residents and hip and trendy retail and restaurants.

Highland Park Bowl was erected during the midst of the Prohibition era for a place to relax and have fun. Over time, the facade was covered and the building became a local hangout for punk-rockers to see live shows while being rebranded as Mr. T’s Bowl. In 2016, a local group purchased Highland Park Bowl and through a demolition discovered that much of the original venue could be restored and repurposed, continuing a common thread that ties many of the redevelopments throughout Los Angeles’ East Side.  Highland Park  is still going through an expansion and developers are discovering the demand for more housing. Luxury condominium projects and new tenants are just starting to sprout along the streets of this historic community.

Echo Park, nestled in between Highland Park and Silver Lake, represents the middle ground of the gentrification battle. Currently, rent in the area is approaching astronomical levels while the seeds of initial developments are reaching fruition and many are asking if they are already late to the proverbial party. There is still a strong mix of both new and old in Echo Park, and reverberations remain of cultural and counter-culture movements that began along Glendale Boulevard and Echo Park Boulevard.

The Rising Tides of Value

There is a strong correlation between development, gentrification and rising value. The median value of a home in Highland Park in 2013 was $426,000. In 2018, the median home value was $801,400, which is nearly double that of 2013, and an increase of 11.6% from last year, and is anticipated to increase 6% next year. In Silver Lake, the 2013 median value was $658,000, and in 2018, $1,184,000. [Again, nearly double in value from 2013, and a healthy] increase of 13.4% from last year, with an expected rise of 9.4% next year. Echo Park tells a similar story; the median value of a home in 2013 was $475,000, and in 2018, it rose to $850,900. The 2018 value is an increase of 4.81% from last year and is expected to increase by 5.6% next year.

All three neighborhoods have median home values that grew by nearly 200% in just 5 years. The rent prices for a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment tell a similar story

Median Rent Prices 2012 2018 Increase
Echo Park $2,347 $3,700 150%+
Silver Lake $2,195 $4,300 190%+
Highland Park $1,100 $3,495 300%+

As the residential market started to boom, so did the retail market. Along the main boulevards in these neighborhoods, retail rents are continuing to increase year by year. Along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, the triple net asking rent per square foot median price in 2012 was $24. In 2018, just 6 years later, the price rose to $31. Glendale Boulevard exhibited the same price fluctuation. On Sunset in Silver Lake, the median price rose from $28 to $41 over the same period of time. Figueroa, Rowena, and York all saw similar price hikes and all are expected to grow exponentially in the years to follow.

The Hipster Aesthetic

The so-called “aesthetic” culture of these areas is part of what is making them thrive. Around every turn, there is always an Instagram worthy moment at a cute coffee shop or hip boutique. Millennials love to enjoy a $5 cup of coffee that they can snap a pic of and share with friends.

Our team recently marketed a newly redeveloped building in the heart of Echo Park, providing a prime example of this new aesthetic.  Much of the appeal of Mohawk Collective comes from its design – all glass, iron elements, and exposed industrial vibe. Many developments and shops in this area are a part of this style and they attract consumers. The area directly around and in Echo Park, in general, will inevitably follow in this design retail trend.

Notable Developments


Other new developments in the area, like 1111 Sunset, are continuing to attract visitors and residents. This project will include 994,000 square feet of residential, commercial and hotel space with 778 condos, a 98-room hotel, and a 4000 square foot conference center. Other high-end residential developments are popping up, like The Griffith in Silver Lake and Alexan South Echo in Echo Park. The Griffith includes 11 3-bedroom single-family homes, starting at a price of $1,200,000. The Alexan will house 200 apartments, with rent prices between $1700 and $3900 per month.

These developments will attract new residents and visitors, driving up both home values and retail rent prices. Various neighborhoods in Los Angeles are following this same trend. Keep a look out for our next post that explores which neighborhoods are quickly developing to join the ranks of Echo Park, Silverlake, and Highland Park.

The New American Strip Mall

Boring, old-fashioned, dirty, necessary. These are the words that might come to mind when Americans today think of a traditional strip mall. Ever thought about the work that goes into designing a strip mall? It may be hard to fathom that there is any sort of methodical reasoning that goes into the physical design of these classic shopping centers, especially the ones that haven’t been remodeled since the early 70’s.

The Old American Strip Mall

Dating back to the 1880’s, utility always dominated architectural design or style when it came to erecting a strip mall. At this time, the streetcar made urban expansion possible. This new transportation allowed residents to enter the perimeter of cities where it was assumed that land values were higher. Due to sprawl caused by the streetcar, speculators erected single-row shop fronts and were cheaply built solely to produce enough revenue to pay the land taxes. Coined as “Tax-Payers”, these buildings were meant for easy destruction at some point in the near future. However, with the introduction of the car, the intended sprawl strips were changed and the Tax-Payers weren’t demolished. More of these buildings were established to accommodate cars in the fashion of the “Main Street” commercial site, with room for perpendicular parking along the facade. As Tax-Payers became more popular, they began to be moved to the rear of the property line with a parking lot separating the façade from the street to accommodate more vehicles. The Tax-Payers would continue to thrive and become precedents of many of today’s strip malls. Many iterations of the strip mall would come from this, including the enclosed shopping mall and power centers.

There are many commonalities of strip malls across the nation. They are between 5,000 and 100,000 square feet and are of plain style, most likely to keep costs down. Many have flat roofs and are 1-story, as in the tradition of the tax-payer. They include asphalt roofs, painted block, metal-framed windows, concrete sidewalks, and asphalt parking lots. This may be the case for strip malls designed in the latter half of the 20th century, but what about strip malls today?

Shifting Toward the New Strip Mall

As consumer interests start to change, the type of stores that go into strip malls change, and in turn change the design as well. One may think that strip malls are failing due to the ease of online shopping; however, it is the opposite. Strip malls are thriving today because many have transformed to become more service-oriented; they include interests such as yoga, salons, spas, urgent care facilities, and insurance. Becoming more service-oriented involves much more of an experience over the normal goods-oriented strip mall. This experience is reflected in the design of the mall’s exterior design and layout in addition to what its tenants may offer. The priority has now shifted to match the aesthetics of these new tenants and the surrounding neighborhoods. By doing so, it can attract more consumers from the outside in, contributing to an already prosperous industry.

Shopping centers are still thriving in an upward trend largely due to a more extensive design process. It all starts with the idea of a concept that matches the needs of the area, followed by an extensive research of market trends, surveys, mall positioning, retail circulation, zoning, and more. Choosing the right architect is also crucial to convey a concept and could contribute to the success or failure of the shopping center. Though this may seem like a simple task, it is beneficial to have a special team and or expert mall adviser to conceptualize, efficiently manage, and coordinate the design planning phase. Up until recently, it was not understood by many that there needs to be an organized approach towards shopping center design and planning. Better shopping center development is crucial and is becoming more apparent across the country, contributing to a better, more enjoyable, and more efficient shopping experience.

Strip Malls are an important part of American history and have completely altered the experience of shopping for many people since their creation. While homogeneity has cast its shadow on many strip malls throughout America, today’s centers involve a much more extensive design process that attempts to imitate the design of the neighborhood and create an experience for many service-oriented businesses. Strip malls have thrived since their creation, and their success will continue far into the future. The new American Strip Mall: enjoyable, unique, and of course, still, necessary.