Valley's bustle bypasses Victory Park

Times Staff Writer

When the city of Los Angeles recently closed an Erwin Street entrance into the Victory Park neighborhood from Victory Boulevard, residents cheered. The permanent closure was a coup for a neighborhood of 199 homes that has sought to be an oasis from traffic and congestion in the San Fernando Valley.


FOR THE RECORD:
Street closure — A June 19 article misspelled the name of a recently closed street in the Victory Park neighorhood as Irwin Street. The correct name is Erwin Street.


Insider's view

The closure "clinched it for us," Elle Saling said. "We're the closest thing to a gated community in Los Angeles that you can get without a gate."

Even before the road was closed, Victory Park residents felt that they were an island unto themselves, sandwiched among a handful of streets south of Victory Boulevard, east of the 405, west of Sepulveda Boulevard and north of Erwin Street. The neighborhood comprises Peach Avenue, Langdon Street, Orion Street, Blucher Avenue, Blucher Court, Friar Street, Sylvan Street, Firmament Avenue and a small piece of Victory Boulevard.

"It's always been a very cohesive neighborhood," Enrique Aragon said. "We are separated from everything else, so we became sort of an island in the middle of everything."

How it grew

The ethnically diverse neighborhood, once a swath of walnut trees, was developed in 1949. Its small homes were intended for veterans of World War II. Before improvements, most had one bathroom, floor heaters, fireplaces and hardwood floors.

Within Victory Park lies Cameron Woods, a sub-neighborhood of homes on Orion Street. The street's homes are rarely for sale, although their ample green lawns and white picket fences attract Hollywood moviemakers looking for a street that harks back to the 1950s.

Good news, bad news

Victory Park has now been put on the map for another reason: Within three months, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will open a station of the new Orange Line off Victory and Sepulveda boulevards. A wall will be built to block the neighborhood from the station.

Real estate broker Ron Maman said the transit line "is a plus and a minus. You are close to major freeways. The minus is the [line] will attract more attention to that neighborhood. But I do think there is more pro than con."

On the market

With few homes available for purchase, Victory Park has become increasingly attractive, Maman said. He estimates there are 1,800 homes in the San Fernando Valley for sale now; six years ago, there were as many as 10,000 available at any one time.

Currently, there are four homes listed in the neighborhood, Maman said, ranging from $489,750 to $1.2 million. The size of the least expensive home is 1,188 square feet and includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The most expensive one, unusually large for the area at 3,000 square feet, includes four bedrooms and four bathrooms. In the last six months, only one home was sold, a 1,492-square-foot home for $481,000.

The draw

"The neighborhood is secluded and a lot of people like that. There's not a lot of traffic going through," said Maman of Pocket Investments.

Report card

Schools in the neighborhood, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, include Sylvan Park Elementary School, Van Nuys Middle School and Van Nuys High School, where 2004 Academic Performance Index scores for the schools were 659, 621 and 635, respectively, out of a possible 1,000.

Entry-level appeal

The neighborhood's modest homes are a bargain in today's market, according to Bud Margolis, a broker with Century 21 Exclusive Realtors in Woodland Hills.

"Most of the homes are under 1,500 square feet and sell for around $325 to $375 a square foot. That's a pretty darn good price," he said. "It's a good area for an entry-level buyer. It's hard to get a home in the Valley for under $500,000."

Historical values

Residential resales for the entire 91411 ZIP Code:

Year...Median Price 1990...$238,000

1995...$150,000

2000...$237,500

2003...$382,000

2005...$502,500*

*Year to date.


Sources: DataQuick Information Systems, api.cde.ca.gov.

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