Lofty Aspirations

Los Angeles’ Arts District is Booming

When I first contemplated a move to Los Angeles, I didn’t know very much about the city. Actually, looking back, I pretty much didn’t know anything. Now that I’ve been living on the West Coast for nearly three months, I’ve finally figured out the difference between the 101 and the 110, and I can almost get to the beach without using my GPS. Progress!

Like anyone who decides to pack only what she can fit in her little Ford Focus and move half way across the country, I relied on my trailblazing friends to give me the scoop on the best places to live. There was plenty of talk about the trendiest east side neighborhoods and how Hollywood is kind of sketchy, but nobody said a peep about downtown Los Angeles.

I must say, I can’t blame my friends for glazing over DTLA. After all, downtown Los Angeles earned itself a pretty bad reputation following World War II. Not unlike the career and personal life of Amanda Bynes, the bustling city center fell into a rapid downward spiral after years of economic success.

Over the past several decades, the area now known as Los Angeles’ Arts District has boomed into a vibrant community marked by spacious live/work lofts.

Suburbanization, the freeway network, and an increase in car ownership pushed many corporate headquarters out into the suburbs. The once-wealthy downtown area was no longer attractive to residents. Businesses closed and historic buildings were demolished. What buildings did remain were left vacant or housed low-income renters. Downtown Los Angeles became a place people avoided like leftover seafood.

Fast forward to the 1960s and 1970s. A group of artists set up shop in some empty warehouse space on the east side of downtown Los Angeles. However, it wasn’t until 1981 that the City of Los Angeles passed the Artist in Residence ordinance, which allowed the artists to legally live and work in industrial areas.


Over the past several decades, the area now known as Los Angeles’ Arts District has boomed into a vibrant community marked by spacious live/work lofts, trendy restaurants and bars, retail shops, art galleries, and concert venues galore. With this summer’s addition of One Santa Fe, a mixed-use complex with a grocery store, a 99-seat theater and 438 apartments, this once-undesirable downtown area is quickly becoming one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

In addition to the neighborhood’s open-air malls, art complexes, and upscale coffee shops, the Arts District is also a popular filming spot for movies and TV shows. Anyone who watches New Girl has undoubtedly lusted over the trendy loft space occupied by Nick and Jess. In case you’re wondering, the exterior shots are filmed at the Binford Lofts on Traction Ave where a 1,600 square foot loft will cost you $3,390 per month.

Unsurprisingly, the Arts District remains home to artists and those who work in the film and television industry. And, as you may have guessed, living in this up and coming area comes at a price. According to, the median list price in the Arts District is $738,000, which is about 19 percent higher than the median list price in Los Angeles overall.

Regardless of rising home prices in Los Angeles’ Arts District, there’s more demand than ever for live/work loft space with easy access to the city’s most culturally rich amenities. If you act quickly, you might be able to snag one of these high-style homes before the other Angelenos find out about downtown L.A.’s best kept-secret.

Photo Credit: Dabito/Old Brand New

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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