Homebuilder Tells Highland Park Neighbors to Be Grateful for Gentrification

Highland Park
Highland Park
File photo by Erica Zabowski/Flickr

The next time neighbors in your up-and-coming Latino community transform a turn-of-the-century house into a postmodern box, don't be mad. Be grateful.

That was the message recently after neighbors complained about construction noise emanating from a tear-down on Hayes Avenue in that most gentrifying of Los Angeles neighborhoods, Highland Park.

Contractor Roger Scalise of West Los Angeles' R&R Construction responded to the complaints by hanging a custom-printed banner from a temporary front fence on the property.

"Please be patient ... we are almost done," it says. "Instead of complaining, you should be thanking Nikki and Jeremy, the owners of this house, for bringing up your property value. Have a nice day."

Oh no he didn't.

"They were getting really annoying, complaining about noise," Scalise said of some of the project's neighbors. "They would call at 2 a.m. to complain about noise that happened at 2 in the afternoon."

Some in the area weren't impressed with the banner. One Highland Park Twitter user said, "I'm sure this means a lot to renters. Demanding gratitude is [a] great way to endear yourself to neighbors."

Another Twitter user said, simply, "Nikki and Jeremy can go f—- themselves."

Highland Park, a traditionally working-class neighborhood dominated by Latino families, has been upended by gentrification. Boutiques have moved in, craft beer flows and homes are flipped regularly.

In fact, even before the Great Recession, Highland Park was a fairly regular location for TV's Flip This House.

The question, of course, is what happens to the families that have lived, owned and rented there for decades.

The Hayes Avenue project was a tear-down, Scalise told us. A new home is being completed as we speak. The work should be done in about two months, according to The Eastsider L.A., which first reported this story.

The couple in question is white, he said. But they've lived on the property for more than two decades, Scalise said, and the woman's family lived in Highland Park for several decades before that.

"It's not like new people coming in and remodeling," he said. "Her family is from the neighborhood."

The workers make most of their noise between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., he said. 

"That house is an amazing house," Scalise said. "They're bringing up the property value. Neighbors should appreciate the owners building there. They're bringing more value to everybody else."

What of the locals?

"Anyone with property now can ride it out and sell and move somewhere else and put some money away," he said. 

"And maybe it will drum up some business for me."


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