Who's Moving In?

Monah Li, Clothing Designer

Monah Li is in the process of selling her Silver Lake home, where she’s lived for four years. She is moving to a 2,000-square-foot loft in downtown L.A.

"I don’t know how I got myself into buying a house. I don’t want to fix anything or work in my garden. I am not up for the responsibility anymore . . . I just thought living in a house was the right thing to do. You grow up and you buy a house. I have a daughter, and I didn’t think you could bring up a kid in downtown. Thirteen years ago in downtown it was very grim and scary. Now it is really changing. Since it has a swimming pool, it is all right with her. There are barbecue areas, and interesting people living here.

"I always lived in lofts downtown or in big communes in Vienna. I don’t like living in a house by myself. I like the community. It is a certain way of living, in a loft. It’s a lifestyle choice. I will be working and living there. Other people will be doing that. Those are the people I want to live near."

Vladimir Mkrtchyan

Western Carlton Way/Metro Hollywood

Vladimir Mkrtchyan, 33, lives at Western Carlton Way/Metro Hollywood apartments and townhouses on the corner of Western Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. Mkrtchyan, a handyman, has lived in the 122-unit apartment/townhouse complex with his wife and two sons for four years. He got his two-bedroom apartment through a lottery in 2001, in which only low-income residents could apply. He pays $650 a month. Mkrtchyan said the building is very multicultural: 25 percent Armenian, 25 percent Spanish. The remaining tenants are African-American and Korean. Amenities include 24-hour security, washer and dryer in every unit, indoor parking, fitness room, play area, and barbecue pits.

"If you don’t make a lot of money, this is a good place to live. It is just difficult to get in. No one moves out. The rent is cheap, and the building is nice, clean and quiet. No one leaves here unless they die."


Corrie Caster

Palazzo at Park La Brea, 6220 W. Third St.

Corrie Caster, a talent scout, has been living at the Palazzo for one year. She lives there with her photographer husband and two kids, ages 5 and 3. Her family was in transition from selling its home to looking for a new one. She lives in a two-bedroom and pays $3,000 a month. Palazzo offers a boutique-style gym, full spa with Jacuzzi, steam room, massage services, manicures and pedicures. There is also an outdoor heated pool, which is open all year around, a 24-hour business center with free Internet and computer access, and a snack area and coffee bar.

"It is like living in the Four Seasons Hotel. The grounds look like Hawaii. There are flowers everywhere. It is across the street from a park and the Grove. It is going to be hard to leave. You see a lot of young Hollywood."


Elizabeth Davis-Hepker

Palazzo at Park La Brea East, located at 348 S. Hauser Blvd.

Davis-Heptker, designer and manufacturer of a home-furnishing line called Indigo, moved to L.A. from Ohio last September with her children, ages 17 and 11. They live in a two-bedroom plus loft.

"We moved in here because of the community. They have a Saturday brunch. The children watch TV in the spa area. My daughter works out with a trainer. She can use the spa for free. We tried for several weeks to look for a house. I went as far south as Palos Verdes, and through Beverly Hills and Brentwood. We were looking to rent initially. Now we are looking to buy. We would like to put our money towards an asset. The houses are so expensive out here. We keep raising the bar at how much we can spend, and we still can’t find anything. It is expensive rent, but you get so much for it. And it’s amazing how many places we can walk to.

"As a busy working parent, time is very important. I think, for someone who is brand-new, it is really nice having everything set up for you. It is a trade-off of time. I am not in the car commuting all the time, shuffling them back and forth. I am not out there mowing a lot of grass. I can spend great quality time now with my family. I am a happy camper. We don’t have a yard and probably less space, but it doesn’t feel like that. We really have a big yard and a giant swimming pool. And we don’t have to maintain it."


Heath Finn

Palazzo at Park La Brea East

Heath Finn has been living at the Palazzo for seven months. He grew up in St. Louis and now works for U.S. Bank as a commercial lender. Finn, 37, pays $2,300 a month for a one-bedroom he shares with his wife. They both work from home and use the Palazzo’s business center. Their apartment is 800 square feet and includes a fireplace, granite counters, a deck large enough for a grill, and dual sinks. "The hallway and elevators smell good," he says. Oh, and there’s a spa with hot tubs and a heated pool, free spinning, yoga and kickboxing classes, hip-hop dancing, Pilates, and personal trainers.

"We like the area because it is centrally located. I haven’t embraced the car lifestyle — L.A. is a great place to be if you can stay off the freeway. The convenience is nice. We saw all the Oscar-nominated movies. We can drop off our dry cleaning with the concierge. If you play your cards right, you don’t have to move again till Monday.

"We make good incomes. We have money saved. And the apartment option was attractive because we fear that housing bubble. We don’t want to buy and have it pop and lose 20 percent in the first year. Especially coming from anywhere else in the country, you can’t really buy what you are accustomed to. We are coming out of St. Louis. The sticker shock is still very significant for us. In St. Louis we can buy twice the house for half the price."


Mark Shunock

Santee Court Legacy, downtown, located on 7th and Los Angeles streets

Shunock, an actor, has lived at Santee Court for four months. He has a 1,000-square-foot loft, which he pays $1,800 a month for. Amenities include rooftop pool, Jacuzzi, basketball court, driving range, barbecue gas grills, fitness room, hot tub and driving range. It is all free wired, with DSL and two or three phone lines in each apartment. There’s 24-hour security, and parking is available. Apartments have cement floors and 25-foot ceilings.

"By chance I took a tour of downtown and fell in love with the big lofts. The complex is very appealing. They have taken over an entire city block and created a little community. There is a courtyard. A market is opening up. A food court is coming. We don’t have to go anywhere. Everything we possibly need is downstairs. Everyone is 40 and under and in the entertainment or fashion business. It is a cool, funky group of people. We knew we weren’t moving into a seniors’ home.

"It was a financial thing. I wasn’t in a financial position to live in a house. Here, there was a small security deposit. I lived for seven years in New York. If this apartment was for rent in New York, it would be triple the rent. This place would be $8,000 a month in New York."


Edber Mamisao

Santee Court Legacy

Edber Mamisao, 30, moved into Santee Court Legacy in February 2004. Originally from Canada, he’s been here for two and a half years and works, by day, at Disney as a production coordinator; by night, he is a filmmaker. His wife is a painter. They pay $1,650 for an 800-square-foot loft.

"There is a lot of support for artists. There was a show held in one of the lofts recently. Santee Court sponsored the event. There is space for my wife to paint and have clients come in and check out her artwork. We are close to a lot of art galleries. One of the galleries wanted to see her work. It was really convenient. They walked over, and she has a show in May.

"I am a creative person, and it’s a creative space. I am happy when I go home. I feel inspired. There is something about being downtown. It is so alive. So many things are accessible. It is also the architecture. I love seeing buildings. Forms. I get excited driving through downtown. Just passing Disney Hall excites me."


Katie Bogue

Santee Court Legacy

Katie Bogue, 25, is co-owner of Label Los Angeles, an online boutique that promotes L.A. designers. She runs her office out of the loft space, for which she pays $2,200 a month for 1,400 square feet.

"The lofts are also advertised as workspaces. We hold our meetings here. We have a fashion designer and photographer who work and live here. Half of the people are running their businesses here.

"We love the downtown area. We are right in the middle of the fashion district. It has a New York loft vibe. Cement floors, a bit of an edge. It is hipper than being on the Westside. It has a very homey feeling. We are really happy with it."


Brad Gold

Villas at Park La Brea, 5551 W. 6th St.

Brad Gold, 24 and a native of Chicago, has lived at the Villas for almost two years. He is a USC Law student and does Web development, marketing and paralegal counseling on the side. He pays $2,550 a month for a large two-bedroom.

"When I moved to L.A., I did not know a single person who lived here. My dad and I took a trip two months before and rented a car. We picked up an apartment guide and zigzagged from Santa Monica to the east. After looking at 30 or 40 different places, I decided that this one was the best. It was nice to see a bunch of people hanging out. They do a good job of trying to create a community feeling here. They have barbecues by the pool. Movie night for little kids. I looked at that and thought it would be a good way to meet people. There are a lot of graduate students. The vast majority of the people are singles or couples that aren’t married or are in their 20s. A few scattered retired people.

"I definitely considered buying a house. But not being familiar with real estate, I figured I would just rent and get settled in. I wasn’t planning on staying here for the entire year, but it has worked out so well I didn’t want to worry about moving. Whenever my friends visit, they say it looks like I am living in a hotel. It is one of the few things I can’t complain about."


Elle Mansfield

Villas at Park La Brea

Elle Mansfield, 57, author of the novel Don’t Touch My Heart, has lived at the Villas at Park La Brea with her husband for just over a year. They own a home in Nevada City and are here temporarily for the duration of her husband’s two-year contract as an information-systems analyst. They have a two-bedroom plus loft for which they pay $3,087.

"It is much better for our dollar to live in an apartment. It wasn’t our first choice. It wasn’t till we researched it that we realized we could get security and amenities and a pristine living space in an apartment.

"If something goes wrong, you make a call and someone fixes it. When we leave town, the women in the leasing office feed our cats. I look out the window and see this expanse of aqua. I really feel like I am living in a hotel, and for a temporary period of time it is a kick. It is nice to not be responsible for anything."


Heidi Moore

Villas at Park La Brea

Originally from South Africa, Heidi Moore and her husband have lived in the Villas at Park La Brea for one year and three months. He is a diplomat and is stationed here for four years. They pay $2,600 for a two-bedroom with loft.

"We looked at houses and apartments, but were keener on apartments because of the lock-up-and-go aspect. We don’t have to worry about safety and security. This way we close the door, and everything will be fine when we get back.

"It is rather nice getting to know the other residents. You don’t really get lonely here. It really is resortlike. They serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. They have coffee going throughout the day. In the afternoon, they have freshly baked cookies. I have a few friends who live in houses, and they live so far away. They are very isolated, but here I always have someone to chat with."


Emy Ellis

Santa Fe Lofts, 121 E. Sixth St.

Emy Ellis, 31, works in project management with LAUSD. She has lived at the Santa Fe Lofts for three months now. Before that, she lived two blocks away, but the management was horrible. The boiler was broken. She didn’t have a heater for four months. The loft cement floor was very cold. She stayed there nine months. Prior to that, she lived with her ex-husband in a rental home in Pasadena. Her loft now is 620 square feet. She pays $900. There is no pool, but there will eventually be a gym. There are also free Internet access, basic cable, and security at the front desk.

"It targets young professionals. Artists. The style is more urban than retro. It definitely has that Manhattan-meets-Brooklyn feel.

"I wish we could attract more people. Downtown is really cleaning up, and I wish people wouldn’t look at downtown as an ugly place. There is a lot to do and see if you can be open-minded. These lofts are artsy and affordable. They suit urban lifestyles."

Behind the Curtain at Sunset & Vine

For a nonresident, trying to make your way into Sunset & Vine, the 300-unit apartment complex at the northwest corner of those storied streets, is no easy task — especially with a 24-hour lobby attendant monitoring your every move. Unless you have an in or a very tall ladder or, on special occasions, you are a member of the glitterati — Matt Damon threw his Bourne Supremacy VIP party poolside — you are pretty much out of luck getting into the ’60s-retro-style, mixed-use development. But at least you’ll be able to wander the aisles at Borders or Bed, Bath and Beyond on the boulevard below. Say the magic words, though (“I’m interested in an apartment”), and the doors open — to 10-foot ceilings, polished concrete floors, posh appliances, a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center, outdoor fireplaces, a gigantic chess set, a billiards table, a TV room, a hot tub and a sauna. The pool, open year-round and kept at a temperature of 80 degrees, features additional amenities like DSL and Internet access and food service from the neighboring downstairs restaurants, Schwab’s and Kabuki Sushi. There are also monthly movie nights, and Sunday brunches. All this comes at a price, of course: $1,400 for a studio to $2,500 for a two-bedroom, which ain’t bad considering ArcLight and Amoeba are just across the street.


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