Atwater Village is a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood of Spanish-style houses and bungalows built in the 1920s to 1940s, many of which retain their original details. Fixer-uppers with hidden charms attract first-time buyers priced out of neighboring areas. Touted for years as the next Silver Lake, it is slowly but surely coming into its own.
Attractive houses with character, big yards and tree-lined sidewalks give Atwater a real neighborhood feel. Next to Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Glendale, the area is nearly two miles in length and half a mile wide on the edge of Griffith Park, one of the largest urban wildernesses in the nation.
The Los Angeles river forms a natural border to the west, sending a cool breeze into the neighborhood of 16,000 residents most summer evenings.
Because of centuries of flooding, land in Atwater is remarkably fertile, making fruit trees and gardens striking features of many properties.
Despite high demand for homes in the area, bargains are still available, especially for duplexes, said Kevin Williams of DBL Realtors. The catch: "Invest now, because prices are going up 30% to 35%, and there is very little inventory. Some houses still need work, but there is a lot of change in the air. Don't be turned off because a house needs fixing."
Good news, bad news
The first part of a proposed $3.8-million street-scaping project is scheduled to begin in June on Glendale Boulevard, which connects Atwater to Los Feliz via the historic Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.
The Glendale Boulevard corridor was once peppered with stores and markets that catered to such local elites as Walt and Lillian Disney, who lived in Los Feliz.
Commercial activity has long since ceased, leaving a six-lane road notorious for speeding cars. The city plans to restore the road's prominence by reducing the number of lanes to four and widening the sidewalks in an effort to convert it into a trendy walking area along the lines of Larchmont Avenue.
Realtors believe that the arrival of more young urban professionals will help Atwater reduce sporadic gang-related activity that has plagued some pockets of the neighborhood's less-developed areas since the 1950s.
Some of the finest Atwater homes are along Glenfeliz Boulevard, an impressive residential road near the Los Angeles River. The lush hills of Griffith Park and Los Feliz form the backdrop for these houses. A three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,300-square-foot renovated Spanish-style house sold there in April for $475,000.
Atwater has several landmark restaurants and bars. The Tam O'Shanter Inn, established in 1922, has an excellent sandwich bar renowned throughout the Eastside. Eatz Cafe, an authentic diner with patio tables overlooking a lush public golf course, is a magnet for weekenders.
On the market
In mid-May there were four houses for sale, priced from $299,000 to $475,000, and six houses in escrow, according to the Combined Los Angeles-Westside Multiple Listing Service. From Jan. 1 to May 19, 30 houses sold, ranging from $235,000 to $475,000.
Atwater has 12,000 households. About 90% of residences are single-family homes.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has two elementary schools here: Atwater Avenue and Glenfeliz Boulevard. Their 2002 Academic Performance Index scores were 699 and 702, respectively.
Most middle school students attend Washington Irving Middle School in nearby Glassell Park or Thomas Starr King Middle School in Silver Lake. High school students go to John Marshall High School in Los Feliz.
Single-family detached resales:
*year to date
Sources: DBL Realty, Atwater Village Houses, Atwater Village Residents Assn., Combined Los Angeles-Westside Multiple Listing Service, DataQuick Information Systems.