Property Values Rising in South-Central L. A. : Downtown Growth Leads to Price Increases in Part of Area Affected by Watts Riots in 1965

Twenty-two years after the Watts riots, part of South-Central Los Angeles is hotter than ever.

Property is in demand and prices are going up, says Max Zatz, senior vice president, Major Properties Inc.

When it comes to hot property in South-Central Los Angeles, Zatz is something of an authority.

Two of the seven markets he owned went up in smoke during the Watts riots of 1965.

Zatz says the growth of downtown is stimulating the area between Washington Boulevard, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Central and Vermont avenues.

"Ten years ago, you could buy shopping center property for as little as $5 a square foot," Zatz said. Three years ago you'd have to pay from $16 to $18 for the same property. Today you'll pay about $25."

Dennis O'Donnell, senior sales consultant at Coldwell Banker, says a gradual migration of apparel manufacturing firms from downtown into the South-Central area is one factor helping its growth.

"Prices south of the California Mart at 9th and Main streets to the Santa Monica Freeway are about $60 a square foot," he says. "But if you go another mile south you can buy property at about $22 a square foot."

At the time of the Watts riots, Bill Carlisle was a Boy Scout executive in South-Central Los Angeles. Today, he still works in the area as owner of AA Builders and organizer of the Minority Development Assn.

"The population of the area seems to have increased and it is no longer totally black," Carlisle says. "Hispanics may already be in the majority."

"My church, the Second Baptist, the largest black church in the western United States, is located in what has become a Hispanic neighborhood at 24th Street and Griffith Avenue near Central Avenue. Now, some services are offered at the church in Spanish."

There are few apartment vacancies, and prices for apartment buildings have risen 30% to 40% over where they were seven to 10 years ago, Carlisle says.

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