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Older, it's got plenty of mileage left

FamilyFairfax (Fairfax, Virginia)John Burroughs

The Miracle Mile district, created in the 1920s as a car-friendly shopping area, is an urban melting pot. Peppered with a mix of architectural styles, this recently redeveloped Los Angeles hub includes the Grove shopping and entertainment complex on 3rd Street and expanded museums along Wilshire Boulevard.

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History

In the early 1920s, when Wilshire Boulevard was unpaved and the city largely unimproved, a fellow named A.W. Ross took a chance on a parcel of land between La Brea and Fairfax avenues along Wilshire. Visualizing the dusty area as a suburban shopping center, the 18-acre stretch of Wilshire was dubbed "Miracle Mile" when Ross' dream came true, with glistening new stores and bustling shoppers eager to try the newfangled rear parking lots.

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Housing mix

Early 1920s Spanish-style homes and duplexes share blocks with Country English and Tudor styles. As the area has grown in popularity, so has the density.

On Orange Grove Avenue, for example, some four-plexes have been replaced with seven-unit buildings, adding to the parking congestion.

Other apartment buildings have been replaced by large-scale condominium complexes, such as those along the 700 block of Spaulding Avenue.

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Historic designation

By the 1980s, about half of the original properties in some parts of Miracle Mile had been demolished. Many older units in the area bounded by Detroit Street on the east, Hauser Boulevard on the west, 3rd Street on the north and Wilshire to the south had been replaced with higher-density units. Clamoring for historic designation, residents have pushed to protect older and architecturally significant properties.

Although designation is still pending in that section, a neighboring portion has been approved by the city of Los Angeles. The Miracle Mile North Historical Preservation Overlay Zone stretches from 3rd to Beverly Boulevard and extends west of La Brea and east of Gardner Street.

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The draw

A plus for locals is the walk-to convenience of restaurants, shops and several museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Page Museum.

The corner of 3rd and Fairfax has long been the home of the Los Angeles Farmers Market, a quaint center for boutique shopping and souvenirs. The block changed dramatically in 2002, when the eastern portion of the market was redeveloped into the Grove, a high-end open-air retail and entertainment center.

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Good news, bad news

Although the Grove has increased options for shopping and dining, it also has brought additional visitors, traffic, noise and parking problems. Speed humps have been installed along residential streets, and permit parking has been implemented.

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Stock report

Single-family homes are priced from $725,000 for a cozy, 1920s-era two-bedroom home to $1,150,000 for a renovated five-bedroom, five-bathroom residence of more than 5,000 square feet. Condominiums built in the early 1980s are listed in the mid-$500,000s and average 1,350 square feet. Rents vary widely, with Los Angeles rent control regulations affecting most properties built before 1978.

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Report card

Many area youngsters attend Wilshire Crest Elementary, which scored 664 out of 1,000 on the 2003 Academic Performance Index. John Burroughs Middle School scored 726. Fairfax High School scores were not available.

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Historical valuesSingle-family detached resales:

Year...Median Price1990...$437,500

1995...$266,500

2000...$480,000

2002...$620,000

2004*...$790,000

*Year to date*


Sources: DataQuick Information Systems, http://www.lacity.org , api.cde.ca.gov, http://www.lapd online.org, http://www.themls.com , cityplanning.lacity.org, zimas.lacity.org.

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