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After 121 years, Boyle Heights home gets a change of scenery — across the street

Built in Boyle Heights in 1895, the Peabody Werden House was moved across the street Thursday to make way for an affordable housing project.
(Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)

A small crowd of curious residents gathered at the corner of East 1st and North Soto streets in Boyle Heights Thursday to watch the 121-year-old Peabody Werden House roll across the street.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Carmen Vera, who has lived in the Eastside neighborhood for 35 years. “I got something in the mail that said they’d be moving a house, and I came to watch.”

The house, a columned Tudor with fading blue paint, was being moved to an empty MTA lot across the street to make way for a new affordable housing project.

Workers used jacks to lift the historical building from its foundation, fitted it with wheels and then propelled it across the street with a track loader. Once across the street, they lowered the structure into its new “home.”

Vera said it was something to watch the building travel.

Specator Kazuiyori Negishi, a former tenant of the house who had lived there for 10 years, said he heard rumors about a year ago of new owners asking the renters to leave the home in order to construct affordable housing units in its place.

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“I didn’t worry,” he said about the rumors. “I lived there for cheap rent. I paid $600, now I pay $1,000 in my new home. It is not affordable.”

Vera’s adult son, Rudy, said he thinks the plan for affordable housing is both good and bad.

“I think they could have preserved the house in a different way,” he said. “I like that they’re making affordable housing here, but I think they could also make the big house into affordable apartments for people living here.”

The land where the house once stood, at 2415 E. 1st St., is now an empty, dirt covered plot that will be used to build Cielito Lindo Apartments, affordable housing units.

Osvaldo Garcia, the project manager, who works at the East L.A. Community Corporation (ELACC), said the apartments will have 50 units for families, as well as about 60 parking spaces each for cars and bicycles.

Rent will range from $450 to $1,100 for one to three bedrooms based the area’s median income, according to Garcia.

Initially, the Peabody Werden House was slated for demolition. After a frenzied social media campaign to save the building, however, the decision was made to preserve it. Garcia said it will now be part of a larger community project and will be remodeled to serve the community.

“We’ve had community outreach in the past where we engage our immediate community for input,” he said. “Apart from preserving it, it might become a space where the community is welcome to host events or come together for other occasions.”

Froilan Rosas, a resident of Boyle Heights for 27 years, was helping to watch his roommate’s children while also eyeing the spectacle down the street.

“They should have built apartments inside the house too,” he said. “One thousand dollars for rent isn’t affordable for anyone who’s got kids and just trying to make it.”

alexia.fernandez@latimes.com

@alexiafedz

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