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Feeling at home in a 'live-work' unit

Small entrepreneurs and creative types are flocking to the spaces, often in industrial areas.

August 26, 2007|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Thousands of apartments and condominiums were built in urban areas of Los Angeles from 2001 to 2006, according to Planning Department statistician Louis Cherene. Many of those have open floor plans and are marketed as live-work units.

Only 935 of those, however, received official city designation in that category, and they were usually converted from industrial uses. "They have to have a studio" where someone could make art or a product to be counted, Cherene said.

The total would be much higher if dwellings zoned for more white-collar "desk jobs," were included, he said.

As with other housing, prices can run from $400,000 for a fancy finished starter unit in the 1920s brick Biscuit Company Lofts to millions of dollars.

Units in the "industrial lite" Cannery Lofts in Newport Beach that started at $1.5 million when the project opened in 2004 are trading for as much as $2.5 million, developer Kevin Weeda said. "We timed it just right," he said. "So many things are converging to make live-work practical."

Occupants in his project have included a financial planner, artists, an art gallery, an architect and a graphic designer.

One of his buyers was Jill Markowicz, who operates her cosmetology business in the bustling Cannery Lofts.

"I can walk to everything," she said. "I drive so little that my lease guy is completely going to laugh at me when I turn my car in."

Living and working in the same place "frees up your life to do so many more quality things" besides commute, she said. "And I can just go upstairs for lunch."


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