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Close to the entertainment industry, Colfax Meadows in Studio City is a small enclave of homey residences tucked away in a park-like setting.

March 12, 2000|JENNIFER OLDHAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Screenwriter Patricia Resnick and nursery school owner Gail Silverton went back to the future last spring when they bought a ranch-style home in Colfax Meadows, one of Studio City's oldest neighborhoods.

Their home was built in the 1930s by the Westinghouse Electricity Co. as a showcase for electrical systems and other technologies developed during the Depression.

Resnick and Silverton paid $850,000 for the 2,600-square-foot home, which, like other original homes in the meadow, has soaring beamed ceilings, wood floors and a park-like backyard.

But the former showcase home was anything but that when they moved in. It contained exposed electrical wiring, antiquated plumbing and an outdated cooling system.

"We replaced a lot of the plumbing before we moved in," said Resnick, who lists "9 to 5" and "Straight Talk" among her film and TV credits. "Thank goodness we could cook in the guest house when we tore up the kitchen."

Updating the plumbing and electrical system was just a start for Resnick and Silverton, who eventually plowed $125,000 into the house to remodel the kitchen, add two bedrooms, repair the roof, landscape and erect a white picket fence around the frontyard.

In fact, the family--which includes Resnick's children, Alexandra, 6, and Connor, 4, and Silverton's kids, Annika Krankl, 10, and Nik Krankl, 15, three dogs and a cat--still had contractors underfoot eight months after they moved in.

They relied on an enormous backyard that features a guest house, fountain, swimming pool, trampoline and rope swing for escape from the endless sawing and pounding.

Colfax Meadows, for its mostly white middle- and upper-middle-class residents, is the next best thing to country living. There aren't many curbs, sidewalks or street lights, and newcomers find it easy to meet old-timers.

The neighborhood of some 70 homes--bordered by Acama Street on the north, the Los Angeles River on the south, Beck Avenue on the east and Colfax Avenue on the west--is popular with people in the entertainment industry.

CBS Studios is nearby, along with trendy Ventura Boulevard and a strip of Tujunga Avenue some here call a "mini-Larchmont."

Strong Schools Are a Plus

The area's strong schools--Carpenter Avenue Elementary School in Studio City, Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood and North Hollywood High School--are considered pluses by residents. Carpenter scored well on the recent Academic Performance Index, posting a 9 out of 10 rating when compared with schools throughout the state and a 7 out of 10 rating when compared with elementary schools with similar demographics.

Walter Reed ranked 5 statewide and 5 compared to similar schools. North Hollywood High ranked 3 statewide and 7 compared to similar schools.

Colfax Meadows, first developed in the early 1920s, was named for Schuyler Colfax, U.S. vice president under Ulysses S. Grant during 1869-73.

Homes in the neighborhood are much in demand, said Elizabeth Nifoussi, an assistant manager at Prudential John Aaroe & Associates' Studio City office.

"We have lists of people who would love to be in Colfax Meadows," she said.

Homes start at $400,000 and can go as high as $1.5 million. A 1,500-square-foot home with two bedrooms and 1 3/4 baths sold last fall for $410,000, she said. Near the high end is a 2,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home that sold in October for $1.07 million, said Nifoussi, who has sold homes here since 1986.

When Realtor Patty Ray, 64, moved to Troost Avenue in 1960, she paid $37,000 for her 2,800-square-foot home. She estimates that the house is worth about $900,000 today. "It has a real country feel," Ray said. "You feel safe here."

Los Angeles Police Officer John Caprarelli, the senior lead officer for Studio City, said the meadow is "very quiet." But like other neighborhoods nearby, it sees its share of car break-ins, he said.

It's not just home buyers who covet Colfax Meadows. Developers also keep an eye out for "For Sale" signs on original lots, some of the last large properties in the San Fernando Valley.

Ten years ago, a developer bought one of the meadow's original homes, tore it down and built nine houses. The move prompted the Los Angeles City Council to ratify a zoning change demanded by residents that allows developers to build up to four homes per lot.

When silent film star Mary Tomasini, 92, (known on screen as Mary Brian) moved into her 3,000-square-foot Colfax Meadows home in 1953 she kept two black sheep--Jezebel and Nicodemus--to clip weeds in her woodsy backyard. Her "neighbors" included Seymour the mule, chickens and miniature horses.

Tomasini is known for playing romantic leads in numerous films, including "Beau Geste" in 1926 with Ronald Colman, "The Virginian" in 1929 with Gary Cooper and "The Front Page" in 1931 with Pat O'Brien.

Maintaining Flavor of 1930s-Era Home

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