In the ongoing Quest for a Compromise Location Apartment, the boyfriend and I looked at more places today. There was a two-bedroom on Hoover at Third (is that Rampart at K-Town?). There was the duplex in Echo Park with enough steps to prompt base camp jokes. There was the house in Los Feliz that we were told we could view – but it turned out that meant “through the windows, because the people moving out aren’t home.” And then there was the loft downtown.
We looked at the Reserve Building Loft. This is what used to be the Federal Reserve Bank building downtown, built by Parkison and Parkison, who also built City Hall. The agent began by showing us the space on the ground floor destined for a new restaurant space, and it was beautiful – a massive, marble-floored room with hand-crafted mosaic roof that reminded me of Union Station. The lobby of the office had the original 1927 hardwood floors, hidden under carpet for seventy-five years until rediscovery in 2005. And the lofts were exactly what a loft should be – seventeen foot ceilings, with a partial “attic” area for extra space, giant windows, and cement floors. Unfortunately, looking at them, I realized – I just don’t think I could adjust to living in what is really one big room. Especially a $2300 a month big room, although, we were told, “I could get it down to $2200 for you if you lease this week.”
When we got home, I did a little checking up on Curbed LA. It seems that the loft market is getting a bit depressed. It is no longer reasonable to expect people to pay $600K for a thousand square foot loft. Instead, the lofts are becoming lease properties. And even then, they’re having to run specials and post them on Craigslist to move the rentals. The Packard Lofts are offering free month with a year lease, and the Reserve was offering discounts on all their apartments. It reminded me more ofrenting in Dallas seven years ago, when there was a 10% vacancy rate in the city, rather than the cutthroat market that is Los Angeles. But Curbed’s archives seem to tell the story – loft projects are slowing down, and the theory is that those currently being built are being rented, not sold, until the glut and depression passes. I know more than a few of you reading this live downtown – what are your thoughts on the loft phenomenon? Is it slowing or just not growing fast enough, or just not a good idea to start with?
I admit, there’s some appeal to living in a downtown L.A. loft. I like downtown, a lot – the new bars cropping up, the Central Library, the Fashion District. I loved Charles Phoenix’ Disneyland Tour of Downtown Los Angeles. And there’s something about living in a shiny, edgy, artsy loft that makes me feel extra-urban, much the same way I did when, my first year here, I went to the Standard Downtown a couple times and sipped my $12 martini while looking out at the skyscrapers around the building.
Still, the novelty of the martinis on the hotel roof wore off after a while, and I’m afraid a downtown loft would, too. Downtown is becoming much more vibrant, every day, but it still isn’t exactly Sunset Junction. And I’d be afraid that those four walls would start to close in a bit on rainy winter nights, when it was too wet and cold to go out on the garden roof, and not safe to go for a walk outside, and I couldn’t get away from the sound of my boyfriend watching some stupid B movie.
So we applied, instead, for the two-bedroom (bedroom and home office) at Hoover and Third, and, provided that the neighborhood isn’t too sketch at night, and our applications go through, will be living in a different 1920s building – one with hardwood floors that I plan to clean with a a remote controlled Swiffer.