Craftsman spirit thrives in Bluff Heights

Craftsman spirit thrives in Bluff Heights
A plaque on this Craftsman house in Bluff Heights dates it to 1919. (ANNE CUSACK / LAT)
It's the place where Craftsman aficionados come to crow and residents give their cars a rest to walk to shops, restaurants and the beach. Welcome to Bluff Heights, a neighborhood of about 800 homes in Long Beach just blocks from the beach bike path and the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Drawing card

The neighborhood, inland one mile from coastal Belmont Shore, has become a magnet for home buyers who love Craftsman houses, no matter how small. The homes measure from 900 square feet to 2,000 square feet, with most about 1,200 square feet.

Buyers are more interested in features such as leaded glass, built-in bookshelves and wide moldings, said Michael Stokes, who sells homes in the area for Main Street Realtors.

"It's all about Craftsman here," Stokes said. "The appreciation for that in Bluff Heights is tremendous. You pay a premium for that."

The Craftsman craze took off in this neighborhood so fiercely that small bungalows that sold just eight years ago for $160,000 now easily fetch more than $500,000, he said.

The neighborhood was conceived as a modest area that made the dream of homeownership possible. Homes were designed for another time, when people had fewer clothes and more formal eating arrangements. The houses originally had two bedrooms with small closets, one bathroom and a formal dining room, Stokes said. Many now have been remodeled, though.

Early days

Bluff Heights was planned by John Bixby along the Pacific Electric Line at the turn of the century in an area that was more farmland than town. The big housing boom for Bluff Heights occurred between 1912 and the 1920s.

Insider's view

A home survey completed in November showed 588 of the 754 homes in Bluff Heights qualified as historical contributing homes, said Christine Votava, a Bluff Heights Neighborhood Assn. board member.

An active homeowner association successfully sought historic designation for the neighborhood in July. The designation means new home construction, including remodeling and renovation, even exterior painting, must undergo thorough review.

Report card

Bluff Heights is part of the Long Beach Unified School District. Local schools include Burbank Elementary School and Mann Elementary Schools, which scored 714 and 754, respectively, out of a possible 1,000 on the 2004 California Academic Performance Index. The middle school serving the area is Jefferson, which scored 596. Woodrow Wilson High School scored 699.

On the market

Bluff Heights is more expensive than Rose Park to the north, but less pricey than Belmont Heights to the east, with larger homes and better access to the shore, said Carmela Etgar of First Team Real Estate.

Currently, there are two single-family homes on the mar- ket in Bluff Heights: a three- bedroom Craftsman listed at $698,000 and a four-bedroom for $899,999. There are four "two- on-one lot" homes for sale, ranging from $650,000 to $975,000. The listing prices include two homes.

Two other homes in escrow are a two-bedroom, one-bathroom for $499,500 and a four-bedroom home for $747,500.

The number of homes available at any one time is generally fewer than 10, Etgar said. Homeowners love the old-fashioned charm, shops on Broadway and even such funky neighborhood bars as the Reno Room, she said.

"Everything that comes on the market there really sells," Etgar said. "People are waiting for homes. There are so many nice things. People love the historic homes, rebuilding them and the neighborhood association."

Historical values

Residential resales for Bluff Heights and surrounding areas in the 90803 and 90814 ZIP Codes:

Year...Median Price






*Year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Systems,