Thursday, June 24, 2010

Venice, California -- Hello Summer, "June Gloom" Departs and I'm Housespotting from the Canals to Abbott Kinney and Across Lincoln

Venice HouseWarren Wilson Beach House

Summer has officially arrived in Venice, California. It’s not just that the Summer solstice was the other day. It’s not just that it’s World Cup time. It’s not just that “June Gloom” ceases to be a daily gripe amongst Venice’s residents. (June gloom, for the uninitiated, is a LA Westside phenomenon that occurs when the cool air from the ocean hits the warm winds from the East, causing a blanket of sea mist to stretch as far inland as the 405.) When summer comes, the change in mood is almost palpable. The skies are blue. The beaches are busy mornings and afternoons, and those lucky tourists who missed the mist don’t know the difference. So, a perfect day for me to write my first post, about Venice.

Venice CanalVenice Canal

Different homes, different sizes, different prices, and different vibes, that’s what I love about Venice. Venice is one of the best areas in Los Angeles to live in on a long-term basis, for as one gets older, has a family, gets richer or poorer, there’s always somewhere to lay your hat. It has a bustling rental market, too. From a studio on the beach for $1,200 / month to a 3-story townhouse on the canals for $2400 / week, there’s something for everyone. Sound interesting? It is. Let’s take a look at some new properties on the market.
434 Linnie Canal
434 Linnie Canal, Venice. With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms across 2 floors, this English-style home is on a nice 2,800 sq ft lot right beside the canal. The living room bay window looks out onto a reasonably-sized front garden that fronts the east/west-running canal. Did I mention this house has its own little launch jetty? However, don’t get too excited. When I say jetty, it’s more of a platform on which to sit and dip your toes in the water. The back of the property looks over the alleyway. This is where the three main bedrooms are with one on the ground floor and two on the upper. The upper bedrooms benefit from a large patio space that gets a ton of sun since it’s south facing. The architecture is a little funky, particularly with the Swiss chalet-style roof and rather gloomy front door passage way, but at $1,595,000 it’s well-priced.

690 Harbor Street
690 Harbor Street #1, Venice. If living by the water but with a condominium lifestyle is your cup of tea, why not check out 690 Harbor Street in the Del Rey Colony. This secluded little triangle that nestles just to the north of Washington between Pacific and Lincoln is a unique 53-unit ‘resort style’ community featuring a heated pool, spa, gym and BBQ area. The unit itself is bright and breezy with a 1980’s modernist style. The frontage is lovely with a wide vista of the community and a private deck that looks directly over the canals. For 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath and a kickass view, $1,125,000 seems a good deal, but the homeowners’ dues are a whopping $1,080 a month. Granted, you get bang for your buck but that’s around $13K a year on top of your other bills for the privilege. The unit feels quite ‘sophisticated’ and is set right on the canals.
1225 elm1225 Elm Street, Venice. Now, I’m European, so I’m kind of used to that ‘lived in’ look, so I really liked this place. But it’s definitely been lived in. It’s got plenty of original features throughout and it looks like, at some point, an extension was built at the back of what would have been a very cozy and traditional Venice house. This extension has a nice kitchen and dining area as well as plenty of storage and access to the back garden. The current owners have also recently constructed a 560 sq ft studio space above the large detached garage. It's got a small but functional yard outback that has a built in BBQ and some cool landscaping as well. I liked this place. It’s a bit cozy if you’re used to big open spaces, but if what you’re looking for is a groovy, Venice-style home, this could be it. The house sits about 50 yards East of Lincoln, so for those Venice snobs who consider that too far away from Abbot Kinney, take a look at the price - $847,500….That’s pretty good when you consider that only 5 or 6 blocks West and you’re probably looking at another $50K – !
217 windward217 Windward, Venice. Fancy living a hip, modernist lifestyle with that bright, architectural vibe? Well, check out 217 Windward just a stone’s throw from Hama Sushi and smack in the middle of Venice. With the beach 500 yards in one direction and Abbott Kinney 500 yards in the other, this is about as central as it gets. It’s a 2-story, industrial-style build with a mix of bamboo and granite flooring throughout the ground floor and with grey carpeting in the bedrooms. Yes, very chic. What’s unique about this place is that it has an entirely separate dwelling out the back that is connected to the property by a metal gangway. This other property could either be a rental unit, a work / office space, or just somewhere to “get away from it all.” It’s bright, airy and has a sizable 3-car garage. There’s no real yard to speak of, other than a small koi pond / soaking tub in between the garage and the main house. Priced at $1,485,000, this would come down to a matter of taste and location.
235 main street venice235 Main Street, Venice. And, ahhh, to close, the Clown building just on the corner of Main and Rose. It’s a big complex built back in the late 80’s that has great restaurants, bars and coffeeshops on-site. It’s a short distance from Santa Monica. But I mention it because it’s one of those “plug and play” kind of homes. It’s got everything you need from a shared pool, spa and all the amenities. The condo itself is compact. At 1,200 sq ft, it’s not a manse, but it would be a great pied-a-terre for an East Coast urbanite who needed a West Coast home, or for a savvy investor looking for a great unit to rent out to the holiday crowd. At $849,000, it seems fairly priced. Again, it’s a case of location, location, location.

So, that’s my assessment of this week’s Venice market. Check in next week for more West Side observations.

Venice for Beginners:

North West Venice (North of Windward as far as Navy and West of Main) is still pretty grungy. A lot of locals, the Venice dog park. Some industrial warehouse space, Golds Gym, and some of the local beach bars.

South West Venice
(South of Windward and West of Pacific as far as Washington) is the slightly more upscale version of its northern counterpart. Fewer homeless people, more townhouses, a couple of cocktail bars, and generally higher income professionals. The beach is still pretty hectic, what with world-famous Muscle Beach, Venice surf break, and Venice recreation park right there.

Central Venice and the Canals
(East of Pacific and south west of Abbot Kinney as far as Washington) feels like an entirely different city. A certain Mr. Abbot Kinney envisaged an entire community based on Venice, Italy and it’s here that you can still see his vision intact. Four main canals remain with all its little tributaries and it’s here that property prices really start to rocket.