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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

Evergreen value in Riverside's Wood Streets

October 19, 2003|Susan Sullivan | Special to The Times

For home buyers seeking amenities including hardwood floors, coved ceilings, built-in bookcases, mullioned windows and French doors, this city's well-kept enclave, where street names were inspired by tree varieties, is a bastion of affordable, custom-built California bungalows and Craftsman, Tudor and Mediterranean-style homes.

Citrus history

The neighborhood was blanketed with orange groves until 1913, when an arroyo separating it from downtown Riverside was filled in and a developer named Wood began building houses and memorializing himself with such street names as Larchwood Place, Lynwood Place and Rosewood Place.

Riverside Community College, the eighth-oldest junior college in the state, anchors the north end of the Wood Streets. The centerpiece of the campus is the Quadrangle, an Italian Renaissance-style building with an enclosed courtyard dating to 1924.

Drawing card

Although newcomers to the Wood Streets pay a premium for its historic charms, prices are affordable compared with Corona and Orange County cities to the west, according to Realtor Tara Glatzel of RE/MAX Partners. The average price per square foot in the Wood Streets is $180 to $200, Glatzel estimated, compared with $160 for Riverside as a whole.

Insider's view

Tree-shaded sidewalks and homes with spacious front porches encourage connections between neighbors, who range from professional and working-class families to older residents who have lived in the neighborhood for decades.

Nostalgia and the cozy neighborhood feel, as well as the cachet of living in a one-of-a-kind older home, draw people to the Wood Streets, said Carol Berg, a broker associate with Armstrong Realty in Riverside. The Wood Streets, Berg noted, was one of two areas in Riverside least affected by the real estate price collapse in the early 1990s.

Good news, bad news

Owning a distinctive older home loaded with charming features often means living with such trade-offs as small closets and bathrooms, wiring and plumbing that need to be updated and a seemingly endless list of repairs.

"We get younger couples who idealize them more than they should," Glatzel said of the older homes, many of which lack modern conveniences. "They might need more repairs than the average home, but they're generally more solidly built."

Report card

Children from the Wood Streets attend Magnolia and Pachappa elementary schools, whose 2002 Academic Performance Index scores were 693 and 724, respectively, on a scale of 1,000. Those elementary schools feed into Central Middle School, with an API score of 611, and Poly High School, which scored 627.

On the market

In the roughly 40-block neighborhood, Glatzel estimated there are 1,600 to 1,800 homes. Properly priced houses are selling quickly, she added, generally within a week.

As of early October, there were only four houses on the market in the Wood Streets. The lowest-priced listing was a three-bedroom, one-bath, 1,100-square-foot house, with new roof, air conditioning, hardwood floors, a fireplace and a large front porch, for $234,900. The highest-priced listing was a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,750-square-foot home for $289,900.

Historical values

Single-family detached resales:

Year...Median Price

1990...$161,000

1995...$134,000

2000...$176,500

2002...$220,000

2003*...$241,000

*Year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Systems, Riverside Unified School District, api.cde.ca.gov, www.aprilglatzel.com, www.carolberg.com, www.ci.riverside.ca.us/museum/exhibit/shdnei.htm, RE/MAX Partners in Corona and Armstrong Realty in Riverside.

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