The latest in Highland Park real estate news - nine single-family homes are being built on Burwood Avenue in Highland Park. Curious about the rumors of "gated community" and the like, I attended the Highland Park Neighborhood Council Meeting to hear a presentation by a representative from Williams Homes, a smaller developer who works out of Santa Clarita, who is building the project. I will tell you right now, this is an opinion piece, not a news article. And when you say Santa Clarita to me, I think of packed-in-like-sardines cheesy spec-built stucco developments with no soul. Here are the facts according to Keith Herren, Executive Vice President of Williams Homes:
- The development plan has been approved. Grading has begun, sewers and water are in, the streets will be in soon, and home construction will begin within a couple of months.
- The homes will be 2400-2700 square feet. The flat lots will have 2-story homes. The hillside lots will have 3-story homes with the main living area on the second floor, bedrooms on the top floor.
- The lots will be about 5,000 square feet and the homes will each have yards.
- The price is going to be in the $700,000-$750,000 range.
- The style will be contemporary, a lot like the Rock Row development on Yosemite Drive in Eagle Rock.
- The development will not be gated.
The discussion at the Neighborhood Council was lively. Neighboring residents voiced their objections to the style and the size of the homes because they felt it would be inconsistent with their smaller, historic Craftsman-style homes. These folks have every right to their opinion. They feel that no one will want to buy the new homes because they don't represent the historic nature of Highland Park.
I think it will be very interesting to see what becomes of these 9 homes. We have seen inappropriate developments in Highland Park before--the Monterey Hills development that sold out eventually, and the four homes on North Staley off of Avenue 64, to name two. Both projects were supremely not Craftsman style, the Monterey Hills project was a large enough development that it was its own community, separate from the main part of Highland Park. The four homes on North Staley were real tract-style homes, priced in the $800,000-plus range and they still haven't sold.
I think this development could be different. For one thing, the homes are going to have some style and character, even though it isn't a Craftsman style. I hope they will incorporate some green building materials and features, like the Rock Row development did. Personally, I would much rather see an honest contemporary-styled home next to an original Craftsman home than see an imitation of the faceless beige stucco homes that stretch for miles in so many developments in Orange, Riverside, or San Bernardino counties.
We have a contemporary home coming on the market next week which will set a precedent for this development, and it's maybe a half-mile away. 5830 Buena Vista Terrace is an architectural, eco-friendly contemporary that knocks my socks off, and I think the buyers are going to flock over to buy it. It has about the same square footage as these homes, 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, views from almost every window, a very private setting, and much more. We listed it for $799,000, Come check it out and tell me if you agree that it's about good style versus no style. Highland Park is historic and full of Craftsman homes, but it also has some interesting modern and contemporary homes scattered throughout.