Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • April 2014

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • April 2014 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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Why Can't the Miracle Mile be More Like Beverly or 3rd Street...?
Miracle Mile Spotlight: Miracle Mile Toys & Games
Reinvented and Reinvigorated • A Message from James O'Sullivan
Subway Construction Update • Petition Campaign Expands North of Wilshire
Miracle Mile Real Estate • March 2014 Sales

(...below the fold...)


Why Can't the Miracle Mile Be More Like
Beverly or 3rd Street...or Melrose
or La Brea?


When the Miracle Mile Residential Association 2013 Annual Survey asked “Would you like to see a broader variety of retailers along Wilshire Boulevard?” over 80% of the respondents answered yes. New mixed-use development has brought additional businesses, particularly chain restaurants, to the Miracle Mile – but residents often wonder why we don’t have the number and assortment of independently owned retailers and restaurants found on Beverly or 3rd Street...or Melrose or La Brea? There are many answers why:
Unlike those popular shopping and dining areas, there are no height limits on development along Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile. Hence, older storefronts here are more vulnerable to being razed to make way for new and higher developments. Dozens of these older storefronts have been demolished in the past 20 years to erect new buildings – and more face impending demolition for the construction of the subway portals at La Brea and Fairfax: the southern blocks of Wilshire between La Brea and Detroit and between Ogden and Orange Grove will be torn down this summer, displacing Albertson’s Wedding Chapel, the Yamaha Music School, the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, and other galleries and small businesses.
These sorts of older buildings are best suited to starting a new shop or restaurant. They offer smaller and more affordable spaces. The commercial spaces in mixed-use buildings are typically too large and too expensive for start-up businesses and new entrepreneurs. The landlords of some mixed-use buildings demand “shopping mall” type leases that extract a percentage of gross sales on top of the monthly rent payment. Also, newer buildings prefer dealing with large corporations and national franchises with triple-A credit ratings.
This is why tenants of the new buildings tend to be a matter of round up the usual suspects: such as Chipotle, Subway, Starbucks, Five Guys, and bank branches. Not that these businesses aren’t needed and welcomed in the Miracle Mile, but when the annual survey asked what kind of retail outlets residents would like to have in the area they replied: book stores, clothing and shoe boutiques, gourmet food and wine shops, art galleries, card and gift stores, and other specialty retailers.
An obstacle to attracting these types of businesses is that critical mass is difficult to achieve along many blocks of Wilshire in the Miracle Mile. Small retailers congregate on streets like Beverly and 3rd Street because the large concentration of such businesses attract customers – and foot traffic is critical to the success of these enterprises. Customers will check out new retailers on their way to another known store. And the number of restaurants, pubs, and independent coffee houses keep the streets lively well into the evening.
Street life and foot traffic has improved along Wilshire in the past few years. But many restaurants in the Miracle Mile are completely dependent on the lunch trade for their survival. Customer traffic significantly diminishes on weekdays after 5 PM – and is nearly nonexistent on certain blocks of Wilshire during the weekends.
Despite these challenges, throughout the Miracle Mile there are unique and independent businesses, retailers, and eateries operated by talented and hard-working owners. The best way to preserve the shopping and dining diversity we do have – and to encourage new businesses to locate here – is for all of us to support and patronize Miracle Mile businesses.
The Miracle Mile Residential Association will continue to encourage developers and property owners to think outside the box when seeking retail tenants ­– and this newsletter will do its part, beginning with this issue, to shine a “Miracle Mile Spotlight” on local businesses and restaurants [see the article below]. Please send in your favorites [] and we will feature them in future issues.
[Note: The MMRA newsletter does not solicit or accept advertisements. Our support of local businesses is a matter of principle – for which we receive no financial compensation or consideration of any kind.]

PHOTO CREDITS: Insomnia,; Melrose street sign,; American Rag Cie,; A+D Museum,



Miracle Mile Spotlight:
Miracle Mile Toys & Games

Miracle Mile Spotlight:

Miracle Mile Toys & Games

As a child Christine Johnson must have been a very skilled curator of toys and games, because her shop contains a fantastic collection of quality merchandise. It is obvious that every item has been thoughtfully selected. Her eye for detail is readily apparent, from the custom-made shelves to the second-floor play area. Christine is a student of fun with a keen insight into children and what entertains them (and adults, too…).
Christine is a bright and personable woman with a very focused and pragmatic approach to business and community. She grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Massachusetts when she was 13. A graduate of Wellesley College, she married an attorney who had family and a twin brother living in Southern California.  So, after college she and her husband came west and, in time, settled into a home on South Ridgeley Avenue in the Miracle Mile. They sold the house last summer and now live in an apartment on Wilshire in Koreatown. “Which I like a lot, it’s bigger,” says Christine – space is imperative with three children under the age of 10.
Christine was drawn to brick-and-mortar retailing because: “ I like the idea of touching a product and selling a real product to a real person. And I think it’s important for the community to have those kinds of businesses here, because that’s what makes a community: interaction.”
Although the store has a website, she doesn’t sell online. “You don’t get the same community feeling if you don’t go into a store once in awhile – especially with toys. When you’re online buying toys you’re seeing an abstract of what everybody likes, you’re going to see the things that everybody buys. You can sort by most popular, best reviewed, but you’re not necessarily going to find little gems. Or something that might have gotten slammed in a couple of reviews but happens be a really fine product.”
Although Christine has placed ads in local papers she has found that the best advertising is word of mouth from moms and dads. “We do a lot on Facebook and Instagram has been really good for us. I post pictures of what’s happening in the store or a cute new product and people find it by the hash-tag.”
When asked about the impact of the impending subway construction on small businesses along Wilshire, Christine was blunt: “That is going to be chaos. It’s going to be dirty, noisy, messy. They [Metro] can definitely communicate better with businesses and residents. They’re not doing well with that at all. Nobody really knows what’s happening or when. I can’t plan my business if they’re not giving me any more details. But I came into it knowing all this. I opened the business knowing that Metro was coming. That’s why I picked this spot. And I knew it was going to be hell – for nine years, potentially. And I’ve never been naïve about the challenges.”
She commented that subway construction will diminish already limited parking for merchants and restaurants in the Miracle Mile. Her store has no off-street parking and is dependent on the metered parking on Wilshire. “I’m sure it’s a barrier for some people, I’m sure I’m missing people who maybe found me online, then drive through the area and decide not to stop. But most of my customers walk here or live within a few blocks. And I’m able to sustain the business with that level of locality. I think the business will be able to continue based on my ‘local love’ – fingers crossed.”
Christine [photo, right] is optimistic that others like her will take the plunge and start new businesses in the Miracle Mile. “I have customers who come in – and it’s inspiring, I guess, for them to see a new business like this. They have their own dreams about their own business and they ask me all kinds of questions: how did you do it, how do you manage it, how do you do it with three kids? Starting a business for some people seems absolutely daunting. It is emotionally daunting. But if you can get past the emotional aspect of it, it’s a nine-to-five job – okay, maybe it’s eight to midnight.”
By the way, Christine doesn’t sell toy guns – but she remarked, “I finally caved and got water guns, but they’re behind the register. You have to ask for them,” she laughed.

Miracle Mile Toys & Games
5363 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours: 10 AM–6 PM, Every Day



Reinvented and Reinvigorated •
A Message from James O'Sullivan

Reinvented and Reinvigorated...

A Message from James O’Sullivan, MMRA President
Like all organizations, the Miracle Mile Residential Association is constantly evolving in reaction to both internal and external factors. In the beginning the MMRA strove to form a unified group to deal with larger scale projects that were being proposed for Wilshire Boulevard. While individual blocks had been organized for years to deal with particular issues on their respective streets, cooperation on an area-wide basis was required to handle matters that impacted the entire community – like creating Preferential Parking Districts and developing a forum for resident input on everything from general plan updates to major developments that challenged critical infrastructure.
From the very beginning the housing mix in the Miracle Mile dictated that any effective community organization would have to be a residential rather than a homeowner association. Over the years many of the MMRA board members have been apartment dwellers – and today half of the Executive Committee are renters. One board member recently commented – with tongue in cheek – that they couldn’t be a NIMBY, because their apartment building didn’t have a backyard.
We all have one thing in common, whether we are renters or homeowners, we love the Miracle Mile. And we want to preserve its charm, style and uniqueness. And the fact that we are comprised of both renters and homeowners feels very democratic to me. We embody and enable all points of view and strive to find the common ground that unites us.
In the past two years the MMRA has embraced the digital revolution and the benefits have been dramatic both in terms of who we can reach and the issues we can tackle. Our technological renovation has attracted a fresh crop of members eager to learn the ways of community activism. Many are new to the area and some are longtime residents who had never heard of the MMRA (imagine that?).
I welcome their energy, discipline and commitment to the Miracle Mile. At the last board meeting I listened to excited voices challenging the status quo – much as I had as a new member a dozen years ago – and knew all was well with the Miracle Mile Residential Association. 

Subway Construction Update •
Petition Campaign Expands North of Wilshire

Subway Construction Update

Petition Campaign Expands
North of Wilshire
The Miracle Mile Residential Association’s ongoing petition campaign to stop 24/7 construction at the La Brea and Fairfax subway sites has generated a great deal of community support. Petition signatures are coming in at the rate of 75-to-100 per week. Canvassing within our boundaries has been completed – thanks to a hard-working group of MMRA members and volunteers from all over the Miracle Mile.
The petition campaign has drawn a lot of media coverage, too – which Metro has responded to by accusing residents of either being against the subway or opposed to necessary nighttime construction during “cut-and-cover” work related to excavating and decking Wilshire at La Brea and Fairfax.
The MMRA has been emphatic that we endorse the Purple Line Subway Extension. We do not oppose short-term nighttime cut-and-cover construction, either. Our concerns are with around-the-clock activity and dump truck traffic at the “construction staging sites.” The La Brea site will house a slurry recovery facility, a grout plant, and be the location where all of the dirt will be removed from all of the tunneling from Western to La Cienega, a task that will require between 100 and 150 dump truck trips per day – and night, if Metro gets its way.
In response to requests from residents outside our official boundaries, the MMRA board of directors approved a motion to expand the petition drive to the streets north of Wilshire [Wilshire to 6th St./Curson to Detroit]. This area will suffer, too, from the noise and disturbances of nine-plus years of around-the-clock nighttime subway construction. The neighborhood is already at a crisis-point over the lack of parking – and the situation will only be exacerbated by subway construction and other major projects in the Miracle Mile. The MMRA is committed to advocate for the interests of our neighbors north of Wilshire.
The MMRA petition campaign has succeeded in compelling Metro to request a “time out” from the Los Angeles Police Commission in the processing of their applications for exemptions from City ordinances prohibiting nighttime, Sunday, and holiday construction. Metro informed the Police Commission that they want to resubmit revised applications that – we hope – will offer more details about construction activities at La Brea and Fairfax and how they intend to mitigate the impact on the neighboring residents. The applications that Metro submitted last January for work to begin in August were exceedingly vague – so much so that it provoked the MMRA to launch this petition campaign to protect the residents of the Miracle Mile.

For the past year the MMRA has opposed granting Metro a “blank check” permitting 24/7 work. Thousands of residents live in close proximity to these construction sites. Metro has been purposely elusive in responding to the MMRA’s questions about the specifics of the construction process and how they will be effectively mitigated. Metro deflects these inquiries by maintaining that only the contractor can answer our questions – and that the contractor is solely responsible to mitigate the negative impact on our community. But Metro has not yet hired a contractor and has said that a contractor won’t be announced until the end of July.
The MMRA has learned from past experience that the devil is very much in the details. Once Metro engages a contractor, we are eager to sit down with them and delve into the myriad of complex details involved with the operation of these construction sites in the Miracle Mile. Our goal is not to delay or obstruct subway expansion, but to insure that every possible effort is made to minimize negative impact on our residents.
We invite you to visit the Subway Construction page on the MMRA website. It is frequently updated with links to media coverage on our petition campaign, official correspondence, construction fact sheets and reports, YouTube videos of subway construction techniques, and other information.
Your signature on our online petition will guarantee the residents of the Miracle Mile a voice in how subway construction is conducted in our community. Please sign it today…

PHOTO CREDIT: Top, courtesy of Metro.

Miracle Mile Real Estate • March 2014 Sales

Miracle Mile Real Estate
March 2014 Sales

1136 South Cochran Ave.
4,306 sq. ft. total
4 units: 2-3 bdrm, 2 bath;
2-1 bdrm, 1 bath

lot: 6,970 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,250,000
sale price: $1,286,500
sale date: 3-30-2014

1024 South Cloverdale Ave.
3,932 sq. ft. total
duplex: 3 bdrm, 2 bath
lot: 7,802 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,325,000
sale price: $1,517,700
sale date: 3-14-2014

1136 South Dunsmuir Ave.
2 bdrm, 2 bath
2,082 sq. ft.

lot: 7,493 sq. ft.
listing price: $925,000
sale price: $948,000
sale date: 3-19-2014

846 South Genesee Ave.
2 bdrm, 2 bath
1,838 sq. ft.

lot: 5,778 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,159,000
sale price: $1,259,000
sale date: 3-13-2014

929 South Stanley Ave.
3 bdrm, 3 bath
1,831 sq. ft.

lot: 5,274 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,095,000
sale price: $1,110,000
sale date: 3-26-2014

840 Masselin Ave.
3 bdrm, 2 bath
1,676 sq. ft.

lot: 6,998 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,248,000
sale price: $1,335,000
sale date: 3-3-2014

733 South Ogden Dr. #301
condo; 2 bdrm, 2 bath
1,493 sq. ft.

listing price: $589,000
sale price: $599,000
sale date: 3-25-2014

1011 South Stanley Ave.
3 bdrm, 2 bath
1,389 sq. ft.

lot: 5,248 sq. ft.
listing price: $799,000
sale price: $800,000
sale date: 3-20-2014

750 South Spaulding Dr. #231
condo; 2 bdrm, 2 bath
1,308 sq. ft.

listing price: $475,000
sale price: $505,000
sale date: 3-17-2014



(...below the fold...)


Mansionization will be the key topic at the Beverly Wilshire Community Meeting with District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz

Learn more about how the Miracle Mile can protect itself from "over-sized" new homes.

Thursday, April 24,
6 PM–8 PM, Pan Pacific Park Auditorium
MMRA Board Meeting
May 1, 2014 @ 7 PM

Board meetings are held at
the Berch Lounge
Westside Jewish
Community Center

5870 Olympic Blvd.
on the first Thursday
of each month.

All are welcome.

In the news:

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Miracle Mile
History Quiz

Who is the man on the left? 

Hint: He owned an airport at Fairfax and Wilshire in the 1920s and directed films in his spare time.

Click on the photo for the answer
or read:
When the Miracle Mile was LAX

The MMRA Channel

Miracle Mile Farmers' Market
Every Wednesday 11 AM ~ 3 PM

Wilshire Courtyard


Miracle Mile
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President

Joseph Steins, Treasurer

Ken Hixon, Vice President/
Director of Communication
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Copyright © 2014 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


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