Belmont Shore: a cozy corner of Long Beach

No matter the time of year, Belmont Shore is celebrating. There are restaurant tasting nights, and in the summer Bayshore Avenue closes to traffic and opens to in-line skaters, bicyclists and runners. At Halloween, merchants offer candy to costumed children. And high school cheerleaders and local Boy Scouts march in the annual Christmas parade.

By comparison

The Long Beach community of Belmont Shore, where the median home price was $844,000 in February, remains a cheaper alternative to oceanfront communities such as Manhattan Beach, where the median price for the same month was $1,575,000.

"People who aren't familiar with the area and come from Manhattan Beach or Orange County feel there's a bargain here because they see prices that are 50% lower and they are still beachside," said First Team Real Estate Agent Don Kallenberg. "It's hard to find a community like this where you can park the car on Friday and walk around all weekend."

That's not to say that there are a lot of bargains in this enclave, which has attracted major retailers including the Gap, Banana Republic, the Body Shop and a wide variety of restaurants to its major thoroughfare, 2nd Street. Belmont Shore is expensive compared with other areas on the water in Long Beach and inland options such as nearby Lakewood and Cypress.


Beginnings

Belmont Shore was once an ocean wetland and part of Rancho Los Alamitos, which included what is now southeast Long Beach, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Cypress. By the early 1900s, ownership of the rancho was transferred to the prominent Bixby family.

When Belmont Shore lots went on sale for $2,000 each in the early 1920s, developer McGrath & Selover was inundated with buyers, even though the area was soggy marshland.


On the market

Home prices today range from $700,000 to $1.2 million and most homes on the market receive multiple offers, said Century 21 Beachside real estate agent Erik Bueno.

Those on Bayshore Avenue can carry price tags of more than $2 million.

Residences currently on the market include a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home for $785,000, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $875,000 and a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $1.249 million.


Insider's view

Despite continued development, Belmont Shore has retained a village feeling. Backyards are cramped and homes close to each other, but most buyers are looking for a quality of life that remains simple, Bueno said.

"People like the feel of the neighborhood. It's still a small town but there are plenty of shops and restaurants," said Bueno. "There's no reason to get in a car. That's why demand remains very strong."

Historical values

Residential resales:

Year...Median Price 1990...$392,500

1995...$281,500

2000...$440,000

2002...$525,000

2004...$775,000

2005...$839,500*

*Year to date

Report card

Belmont Shore is part of the Long Beach Unified School District. Children attend nearby Lowell Elementary School and Rogers Middle School, according to Bueno, some by foot or on bikes. The schools are among the factors that have appealed to his clients, he added.

Out of a possible 1,000, scores on the 2004 Academic Performance Index were 914 at Lowell, 798 at Rogers and 710 at Wilson High School.



Sources: api.cde.ca.gov, http://www.belmontshore.org , http://www.shoreresidents.org , http://www.lbusd.k12.ca.us/index.asp , DataQuick Information Systems.

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