Something I’ve gotta ask home-shoppers in Long Beach: Are you married to Long Beach? Would you consider heading a bit north to avoid, say, the specter of rising sea levels? Or for the freedom to light safe and sane fireworks? Or to escape the watchful eye of the Long Beach Police Department in favor of the county services of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department?
Then, there’s nothing wrong with Lakewood. Yes, it may not have the excitement or name recognition of Long Beach, but if you’re willing to forgo that, the predictability of our neighbor to the north isn’t without charm.
The city popped up in a couple of construction explosions in the 1940s and most spectacularly in the 1950s when, in a mad flurry of building, thousands of workers constructed 17,500 new homes in about three years. All the houses were designed by one man, Paul Duncan, so, yeah, you could say the sprawling tracts of Lakewood were full of “cookie-cutter” homes.
Still, like the Long Beach tract homes built during the same era, the intervening 60-some years have seen the homes’ additions, landscaping and other exterior alterations taking away a lot of that curbside uniformity and adding a modicum of charm on some blocks.
But even so, the houses are still, in essence, the homes of the 1950s, built with few frills except for some nice ones, like solid oak floors. The two-bedroom homes sold, originally, for a tad less than $8,000, and over $11,000 for larger, three-bedroom models.
And, because they started out more or less identical, their prices today fit in a fairly narrow range between $700,000 and $900,000, with the median listed home in the low $800,000s, about $50,000 higher than the median-priced home in Long Beach, where homes range from the high $500,000s to over $5 million—a considerably wider spread than Lakewood’s prices. It’s not easy to find a million-dollar home in Lakewood unless one pops up in the city’s Country Club area bordering the Lakewood Golf Course, where the homes are custom-designed and include a Richard Neutra home on Parkview Drive.
Otherwise, the homes for sale in Lakewood tend to huddle around the median price, growing a tad more expensive on the south-western end of the city that butts up against Bixby Knolls, but, factoring out the Country Club area, there’s not a huge discrepancy in price, which depends mostly on additions and other improvements that could noticeably separate it from the uniformity of its neighbors.
Here are a few offerings on the market for homes in Long Beach’s friendly neighborhood to the north.
This three-bedroom, two-bath house is located on a cul-de-sac in the city’s far east, south of Centralia Street and west of Bloomfield Avenue, putting it close to Long Beach’s Town Center. Offered by broker Araceli Jugo at $805,000, the home is nicely landscaped in the front, though it could use the planting of something that could make use of that trellis attached to the garage. Maybe a bougainvillea or a night-blooming jasmine. There’s a lot squeezed into the 1,376 square-foot house, earning the term “cozy” to describe the living room and family room. Improvements include central air conditioning and an upgraded electrical panel.
Just north of Long Beach’s somewhat misnamed Lakewood Village (here’s some local civic trivia for you: Lakewood Village is in Long Beach, Old Lakewood City is in Long Beach, Lakewood Mutual is in Lakewood), this two-bedroom, one-bath 889 square-foot house is pretty much the way it was when it was built in 1950. Listed by Realtor Lenny Spangler at $839,000, the home has its original hardwood floors and a covered patio out back. It’s an easy walk to the Lakewood Center as well as San Martin Park. If you enjoy living off the land, you can reap a harvest from the backyard orchard bearing oranges, avocados, limes and figs.
So, are you starting to get the idea of the rich architectural diversity of the homes built in Lakewood during that mad period of construction in the 1950s for the families of workers in the aerospace industry? This 1958 house, listed by Fred Sed and Melinda Kruse DiPerna of Keller Williams at $749,900, is a tad larger than the even-more-typical Lakewood home, with four bedrooms and two baths in 1,460 square feet of space. Like many others, it has spotlighted its oak floors, which have been in vogue for years now after suffocating beneath wall-to-wall carpets during their first few decades of existence. Its galley kitchen, also typical of the homes in Lakewood, has fairly new cabinetry and is well-lighted thanks to its sliding glass door leading to the outdoors, which, like many of the homes I checked out, has not been taken advantage of in terms of being additional living and entertainment space save for a covered patio that looks out onto the driveway rather than the backyard proper. The listing tells us the yard “has plenty of potential for creating your own outdoor haven.” So, get to work!