Urban Living in the ‘Burbs

The market makes way for small-lot homes with big-city style

Written by Jenn Thornton Photography courtesy of Brandon Arant

The flood of creatives and tech professionals from major cities continuing to settle in Los Angeles has given rise to the construction of homes with a distinctly urban sensibility in suburban settings. Those orientated vertically with sky-high ceilings, like 520 Broadway in Venice Beach, typically boast an art studio vibe mirroring metropolitan tastes. The move in this aesthetic-driven direction is giving new meaning—and an edgy new façade—to the “American dream.”

As local suburbs draw their cool quotient from starchitected stunners like 520 Broadway—a four-bedroom townhome with loft-like magnitude designed by renowned architect Robert Thibodeau and New York loft developer Lewis Futterman—market values rise. Consistent with big-city style, the Pardee Properties’ listing overwhelms with interior volume. Its three levels and room on the roof to barbecue taps into a vertical living trend moving the needle toward building tall, space-giving structures on small lots. “Buyers who are used to urban-style spaces tend to have a very social, artistic lifestyle,” says Justin Alexander, director of sales  for Pardee Properties. “The extra square footage creates a voluminous, urban loft kind of feel that connects with this group. They like big, open spaces for entertaining and giant walls for hanging art.”

This new urban design “forces builders, designers and architects to be more creative,” adds Alexander. “Putting up a big modern box with no character or emotion and simply creating a huge space is not selling anymore, so it actually pushes architects and designers to be more artistic; to infuse urban-style spaces with elements that people can relate to. It’s requiring architects to build emotional houses.” This means a mix of materials. In the case of 520 Broadway, warm reclaimed wood, polished concrete and tile complementing professional-grade appliances in the kitchen and designer-quality finishes throughout.

And, with more square footage comes higher prices. “Urban-style homes are taking neighborhoods with typically 1200- to 1300-squarefoot houses and doubling that, if not more,” says Alexander. “So it’s dramatically pushing the values in those neighborhoods.” Proof that to live on a small lot in LA is to live large.

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