IN THE JUNE NEWSLETTER:
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Miracle Mile HPOZ Update:
New Videos of Historical Survey Team at Work
+ HPOZ Progress Report from Katie Horak
Click on image to view video.
An Historic Resources Survey is the foundation of an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, it documents the history of every property within the boundaries of an HPOZ. The Miracle Mile Residential Association engaged the services of Architectural Resources Group [ARG] to perform the survey of the Miracle Mile HPOZ [see map].
Watch the video above to see the ARG survey team at work in the Miracle Mile. You will also learn what “contributing” and “non-contributing” properties are and how they are evaluated.
Click on image to view video.
For a progress report on the Miracle Mile HPOZ watch the interview [above] with Katie Horak, Senior Associate, Architectural Resources Group. Research of original building permits reveals that several renown architects designed homes in the Miracle Mile.
HPOZ Info Packet Mailed to Miracle Mile Property Owners
Earlier this month, the HPOZ Committee – as part of its ongoing outreach campaign – sent out a mailing to nearly 1600 property owners within the boundaries of the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. A letter from HPOZ Chairperson Mark Zecca was accompanied by an informative HPOZ pamphlet published by the City Department of Planning.
If you are a renter and would like to receive a copy of the letter and HPOZ pamphlet, email your name and address to: HPOZ@MiracleMileLA.com.
Host an HPOZ Informational Meeting
on Your Block
Sierra Bonita resident Esther Diaz hands a $250 check to MMRA
Treasurer Joe Steins. Diaz’s personal donation – the first we have
received – will help the MMRA with the substantial costs of
establishing the Miracle Mile HPOZ. (Photo by Cari Lutz.)
On Saturday, June 6, an informal gathering of residents on South Sierra Bonita Avenue [see story below] had an opportunity to learn about HPOZ and have their questions answered by HPOZ Chairperson Mark Zecca and MMRA Treasurer Joseph Steins. If you and your neighbors would like to host a get-together to learn more about HPOZ please contact us and members of the HPOZ Committee will be happy to attend. You can email us at:
For additional information on the Miracle Mile HPOZ visit:
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Sierra Bonita Neighbors Pitch In to Slow Traffic
Sierra Bonita Neighbors
Pitch In to Slow Traffic
The residents of the 800 and 900 blocks of South Sierra Bonita Avenue take speeding cars very personally for good reason: the safety of their children. Growing congestion coupled with the advent of way-finding apps like Waze has greatly increased cut-through traffic in the Miracle Mile. Sierra Bonita was repaved a couple of years ago and – unlike many north-south residential streets in our area– it has no speed humps to impede vehicles racing up and down the block.
“There are well over 20-plus young children on our street,” said Medrene Gee, a longtime resident. “Sierra Bonita has become a speedway, especially with commuters.”
Sierra Bonita resident Matt Cohan commented: “In 2010 my parked car was totaled by a driver speeding fast enough to flip over her own car. I'm the father of a 2-year-old with another child on the way in July. It's a narrow street that drivers use as an Autobahn-like thoroughfare.”
The Miracle Mile Residential Association is working with the residents to get speed humps installed on Sierra Bonita. But, understandably impatient with wading through the bureaucratic maze required to get speed humps, the neighbors decided to take action on their own. On Saturday, June 6, they held an informal gathering to install warning signs to slow traffic along Sierra Bonita between 8th Street and Olympic Boulevard.
MMRA Vice-President Ken Hixon, Treasurer Joe Steins, and board members Mary Woodward and Mark Zecca lent a hand. A dozen signs purchased by the residents were put up. Some signs are the typical “Slow Children Playing” variety and others get a similar message across with a little humor. “The whole idea is to get drivers to pay attention and slow down,” said Woodward. “Whatever works is fair.”
Hixon explained that although the city does not supply “Slow Children Playing” signs, they look the other way if neighborhoods install them on their own without interfering with official signage. “Good luck to the petty bureaucrat that decrees that these signs must come down,” Hixon remarked. “That’s a story I’d love to pitch to the L.A. Times.”
The sign hanging crew (from left): Stephen Saengpradap, Willie Diaz, MMRA
Vice President Ken Hixon, and Miracle Mile HPOZ Chairperson Mark Zecca.
After the signs were hung an impromptu neighborhood meeting was held to discuss the effort underway to create the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Zone. HPOZ Chairperson Zecca and MMRA Treasurer Steins spoke and took questions.
“Sierra Bonita is a street of lovely historic homes with people who obviously care a lot about their neighborhood,” said Zecca. “This is just what we’re trying to save for future generations, but first we need to save the future generation by slowing down traffic.”
Photos courtesy of Cari Lutz.
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Mobility Plan 2035: A Wake Up Call for Los Angeles
Mobility Plan 2035:
A Wake Up Call for Los Angeles
by James O’Sullivan, MMRA President
Do increased traffic jams, increased development, and even worse emergency response times sound great to you?
Well, that is precisely what the new “Mobility Plan” will do – according to the City itself. That’s right. This is what the City says in its own words – buried deep in their reports. To the public it is falsely sold as a mobility plan. After all, who wouldn’t want more mobility?
So, what exactly does the City say about their “mobility plan?” It has to be about reducing traffic, right? Wrong. Here is what the City says about the mobility plan: “Reducing congestion is not a goal of MP 2035 [Mobility Plan 2035].”
Here is what they say it will do:
The [MB 2035] project, together with cumulative growth, would increase congestion, which could impede emergency access.
The [study] determined that a potentially significant and unavoidable impact would occur to emergency access and response times.
The MP 2035 would have a significant impact to the circulation system, neighborhood intrusion, Congestion Management Plan (freeways), and emergency vehicle access.
MP 2035 would result in a significant and unavoidable impact related to level of service of roadways within the City.
The traffic analysis found that the Project resulted in traffic conditions that exceeded established thresholds for neighborhood intrusion as a result of cut-through traffic, increases congestion/delay on the circulation system (arterials and freeways).
No, we aren’t making this up. That’s what it says.
That all sounds great, right? But there is more. This innocuous sentence is key: “The MP 2035 would result in more than 80 percent of the City’s population and 85 percent of its employment being within one mile of a high-quality transit facility.” Why? Because according to new state law, density bonuses are allowed near “high quality transit facilities.” In one shot the City will permit itself to increase density for more than 80% of the City’s population. Did they mention this? No.
Will people have to die for Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets? Will we have to lose protected habitats and endangered species for his Great Streets? Will protection from neighborhood intrusion become a thing of the past, turning our residential streets into speedways in the name of Great Streets? It seems that according to the new Mobility Element 2035 passed by the Planning Commission the answer is: yes. Here’s a question: Can a street that is so congested that emergency vehicles are blocked from getting to you when you need help really be considered “Great?”
While the Planning Commission didn’t put it as bluntly as I just did, the message they sent by approving the new mobility plan is loud and clear. They might as well have said don't bother to call 911 because we cannot guarantee that paramedics can get to you in time – or fire trucks or police cars. Oh, and by the way, cars will be shortcutting through your neighborhood, but don’t worry we will be able to get everywhere we need to go on our new bike lanes. They also admitted that sensitive species, habitats, and wetlands are also out of luck. Too bad for them, but we will get even more bike lanes for the 1% of trips that are on bikes – tough luck the other 99% of commuters.
I don’t know if this is the Mayor once more saying he will get people out of cars any way he can – no matter what – or if this is a cynical end run around our community plans and the Framework Element to implement all kinds of development through a myriad of bills out of Sacramento. And you know what, I don’t care. This is serious stuff and if you care about public safety, excessive noise, and endangered species and habitats then you had better start paying attention to what the Mayor and his “colleagues” on the Council are doing.
The Mayor and every Councilmember needs to be held accountable if they approve anything that compromises public safety. How can they possibly think impacting emergency access is a good thing? What kind of a person thinks that? The answer is the political class. Politicians who flit from one position to another hoping to be long gone before the consequences of their actions become apparent. Their survival depends on our short memories.
In my humble opinion, if you screw around with public safety you should be voted out of office. Will that happen to those behind the mobility plan? Only if we start paying attention to what they are really doing: compromising the safety of the entire city to gain the favor of a very few vocal special interest groups.
This mobility mess will be challenged legally, but everyone needs to step up and get involved with what is going on. If you are asking what difference can a few of us make I would suggest you study the bicycle lobby. They are a small group of people that pushed through the 2010 Bicycle Plan before most of us had finished our first cup of coffee – and they were dogged in pushing through this Mobility Element. So, if you don’t believe a small group can make a difference, you’re very mistaken. A small group just did. And the entire city will pay a very steep price unless a mighty few of us organize to stop it.
This first appeared in the June 5, 2015 edition of CityWatch.
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Planning Commission's Approval of Academy Museum Appealed
Planning Commission’s Approval
of Academy Museum Appealed
On May 14, 2015, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted 6-0 to certify the lengthy Environmental Impact Report for the Academy Museum. In an article in the May newsletter ( “Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You”), MMRA President James O’Sullivan predicted that the Commission would green-light the project despite the community’s opposition to its 1000-seat special events center, inadequate parking plan, and the creation of a digital sign district.
On June 8, 2015, O’Sullivan filed a formal appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision with the City. Despite the appeal, discussions continue between the O’Sullivan and representatives of the Academy.
“In the past the MMRA has always been able to find common ground with developers and we continue to seek that with the Academy,” O’Sullivan said. “We have until June 23rd, when the project goes before the PLUM [Planning and Land Use] Committee hearing, to resolve the outstanding issues.”
The City Council’s PLUM Committee will vote on the project on June 23. It will then be sent to the full Council for its approval and then be forwarded to Mayor Garcetti for his signature.
It’s clear to O’Sullivan that the project will sail successfully through the entire approval process before July 1, when newly elected Council District 4 representative David Ryu takes office. “The Academy has always banked on getting this deal done before Tom LaBonge termed out,” O’Sullivan remarked.
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ProPublica and L.A.Times Reports: Hacked Sony Emails Reveal Wheeling and Dealing to Secure County Support and Funds for LACMA
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. (ArtNet News)
ProPublica and L.A. Times Reports:
Hacked Sony Emails Reveal Wheeling and Dealing
to Secure County Support and Funds for LACMA
Last year’s hacked Sony emails, first leaked on November 24, have recently produced more than the expected cache of nasty Hollywood exchanges. On May 20, ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times published a joint investigation revealing the campaign orchestrated by Los Angeles County Museum of Art head Michael Govan to leverage Sony’s political clout to help ensure that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would give hundreds of millions of dollars of public money to underwrite the Museum’s $600 billion-plus Wilshire Boulevard redo. The emails provide a “paint by the numbers” portrait of the wooing of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, involving a $25,000 Sony contribution to a PAC he controlled, Govan’s fears about sewing up the supervisor’s support, and the deliberate attempt to keep the Sony donation secret.
Here are links to the Propublica article and the Los Angeles Times article or you can read the raw emails for yourself at WikiLeaks:
ProPublica, May 20, 2015:
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Subway Demolition Starting: A Brief History of the Northwest Corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue
Subway Demolition Starting
A Brief History of the Northwest Corner of
Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue
Demolition is scheduled to begin this month on the northwest corner of Wilshire and La Brea. The site will be used as a temporary staging site for the construction of the Purple Line subway extension before being transformed into the Wilshire/La Brea subway station. This corner of this busy intersection has a long and distinguished history:
1925: The “Dyas-Carleton Café” opens [above]. The restaurant featured a large dining room accommodating 250 patrons and an adjoining coffee shop with booths and a U-shaped counter. It was designed by the architect team of George Elmore Gable and C. Stanley Wyant, who were well known for their work in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. In 1929 they designed Hanger No. 1, the first structure built at Mines Field – now known as LAX.
Circa 1931: McDonnell’s, a local chain of popular drive-ins and restaurants, takes possession of the building and opens “McDonnell’s Wilshire Café." It appears that the restaurant ceased operation at this location sometime after World War II. [Photo above dated 1937.]
1949: The original building was demolished to make way for “Tilford’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop.” The understated and elegant structure was designed by the celebrated mid-century architect Welton Becket (1902-1969). A few years later the refinement of the original design was camouflaged by a garish coat of orange paint and the addition of out-of-character signs.
Becket with his original partners, Walter Wurdeman and Charles F. Plummer, designed the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1935. After the deaths of his partners, Becket formed Welton Becket and Associates in 1949. The firm designed an array of iconic Los Angeles buildings, including: the Capitol Records Tower, the Cinerama Dome, the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and the Los Angeles Music Center.
Becket also designed the Seibu Department Store (1962) on the southeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax – later the location of Orbach’s Department Store. The original facade was modified when the Petersen Museum took possession in 1994 and has been entirely erased by the museum’s current remodeling project.
View from Tilford's of traffic on La Brea Avenue, circa 1951.
1984: After being vacant for a number of years, the property was purchased by the Southern California Rapid Transit District – now known as Metro – as a future location for a subway station. The former Tilford’s was remodeled into a “Metro Customer Service Center” to sell passes, provide information, and function as the “lost and found” for the entire Metro system.
2006: Metro commissions artist Jim Isermann to create an eye-popping design to wrap the façade of the bland service center [top photo]. Isermann paints the building in bright green and installs 500 aluminum panels inspired by the sunscreens often used to “modernize” Southern California buildings in the 1950s and 1960s [below].
June 2014: Metro closes its service center and acquires two properties immediately north of the building, the former Blockbuster Video outlet and Lawrence of La Brea rug store, to serve as the location of the Wilshire/La Brea subway station for the Purple Line extension.
June 2015: Demolition is scheduled of the customer service center and two adjacent buildings. Jim Isermann’s geometric panels decorating the customer service building will be removed and stored for future use at another Metro facility.
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Q & A: On the Front Lines of Subway Construction in the Miracle Mile – An interview with Mindy Lake and Michael Cortez
Q & A:
On the Front Lines of
Subway Construction in the Miracle Mile
An interview with Mindy Lake and Michael Cortez,
members of Metro’s Construction Relations Team
After almost two years of advanced utility relocation (and a couple more to go at Wilshire and Fairfax), the main event will begin soon at La Brea and Wilshire as preparations are made for underground subway construction. The Purple Line extension from Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard is a massive and complex endeavor. The multi-billion dollar, nine-year construction project through one of the most densely populated urban corridors in the country is fraught with potential impacts on nearby residents and businesses. It is the job of Mindy Lake [below right] and Michael Cortez [below left] to serve as a liaison between Metro and the community and help ensure that the mitigations implemented during the subway work go as well as possible.
Lake and Cortez talk about their jobs, the proper way to make a complaint about subway construction, and Metro’s Eat-Shop-Play program to support local business during the building process. They were interviewed June 8, 2015. The interview has been edited for length.
Q: What exactly are your jobs?
Lake: My official title is Senior Construction Relations Officer, Section One, West Segment. Which, in plain English, means I handle construction-related issues for the Purple Line Extension for the area west of Hauser Boulevard to La Cienega Boulevard, which includes the Fairfax station and the La Cienega station.
Cortez: And I’m the Senior Construction Relations Office for the East Segment. I cover everything east of Hauser to Western, which includes the La Brea station, the Crenshaw staging yard, and the tie-in to the station at Wilshire and Western.
Q: Mindy, what are your qualifications for this job?
Lake: Over 25 years of community activity and activism stemming back to the mid-1980s in this neighborhood, particularly west of Fairfax: from organizing the first Neighborhood Watch to being a founding member of Mid City West Community Council. I was also the co-chair of the Wilshire Division’s Community-Police Advisory Board for four years. I was born in the neighborhood and went to schools here. I’m basically a dyed-in-the wool community person. I took this job because I thought I had the qualifications to understand the needs of this community – and I thought I could be helpful to Metro with this transformative construction project.
Q: Michael, what are your qualifications?
Cortez: I have over 11 years experience working in the public sector. I worked many years for the Community Redevelopment Agency in the Hollywood and Central region. Prior to that I worked for two elected officials. I was born and raised in Canoga Park. I was president of my neighborhood council and engaged in community activism in the Valley. I believe in the importance of community engagement in the planning process all the way through to the construction of a project.
Q: Now that that a principal contractor –a design-builder in Metro jargon – has been engaged, how do you two specifically fit into the construction process?
Lake: We liaison with all of the entities connected to subway construction. We work with Metro’s project management; we work with community relations; we work with the community; we work with the design-builder and the sub-contractors still working on utility relocations. Our job is to keep an eye on what’s going on so that we can deliver that information to the community – and be available when there are issues or complaints. We try to stay out in front of everything so that we can anticipate if something might create a problem for the community.
Q: It seems that one of the problems Metro sometimes had keeping the noise disturbances under control during nighttime utility relocation work was the large number of sub-contractors involved. Each contractor had to be educated on proper noise mitigation methods. Will it be easier for you to control this problem now that you are dealing with only one main contractor for the actual subway construction?
Lake: Absolutely. I think the challenge with the utility relocation sub-contractors was that what we asked of them was so much more than they were accustomed to providing. It required us to really stay on top it. We had a heightened degree of mitigation measures we were implementing. It was a learning curve for them and a trust issue for us. We had to work very closely with them to make sure the understood the community they were working in.
Q: Speaking of which, how do you find this community to work in?
Cortez: I would say I’ve been able to work well with the community. I’ve started to build relationships with various organizations. I go the community council meetings. I meet with folks individually. I want people to have a face they know during the construction process. Here in the La Brea area I’ve been introducing myself to all the businesses. I am available to them and try to keep them informed. Like Mindy, I respond to anyone who contacts me by phone or email in 24-hours or less.
Q: Let’s talk about complaints. If residents or businesses are having issues with dust, noise, construction traffic, or any other subway related problems, what is the proper way to get Metro’s attention?
Lake: We have are hotline phone number, 213-922-6934, which can translate into an immediate, real-time response if its an urgent construction related matter. Or we can be reached by email. [See below.]
Q: What determines urgency and prompts a real-time response?
Lake: My definition of urgent, for example, would be if you were experiencing an extraordinarily loud construction disturbance at night or your driveway was blocked by a truck during construction. You would call the project hotline; go through the menu options; indicate that it is urgent; a live operator will come on the line; you tell them where you are located and what the issue is; they would call or text me or Michael; and we would respond right then and there.
Q: And then you or Michael would contact someone at the construction site to find out what’s going on?
Lake: Yes. Or, in my case, I live in the Miracle Mile, right here in the construction zone, so, often I’ll just go to the site to investigate the problem.
Q: That was a big mistake, wasn’t it? Moving into the Miracle Mile when you took this assignment? You didn’t put much distance between yourself and your job.
Lake: (Laughing.) It speaks on some level to either my insanity or my commitment to this project. I think it’s the only fair way, that when I say to someone that I know what you’re going through, that I can be perfectly honest.
Cortez: When there is a complaint or problem, we sit down with the contractor and discuss the situation – and remind them to continue to implement our mitigation efforts.
Q: So, simply put, the best way to complain is to call the project hotline: 213-922-6934.
Lake: It’s been a very effective method. The response time is excellent. Michael and I are on top of it. We also cover for each other if one of us is indisposed.
Q: The Miracle Mile Residential Association has a keen interest in supporting small businesses and restaurants. Obviously, the enterprises located closest to the staging sites at La Brea and Fairfax are going to be economically impacted by subway construction. Metro has created a marketing program called Eat Shop Play to promote these businesses to help counteract any damage to their bottom line. What sort of response have you been getting from Miracle Mile business owners?
Lake: Once they wrap their heads around the idea of what we’re doing – and understand that this is something we’re providing to them at no cost – they are quite engaged. They have to grasp the potential construction impacts; right now they’re not really feeling it. So, we’re trying to be pro-active and educate them. Once we get through that process, they are very interested in participating. We’ve had very positive responses.
Q: Have you gotten many Miracle Mile businesses to participate in the program?
Cortez: Yes, so far almost 50 businesses in the La Brea, Fairfax, and La Cienega areas.
Q: I know you promote the Eat Shop Play program online, but will you promote it in other media outlets – like local newspapers?
Lake: Yes, we’ve also bought pole banners for Wilshire Boulevard. We’ll also advertise on billboards and bus shelters. Our official launch for the program is July 1st. That is why we want to reach out to all of our community partners. We want to get word out.
Metro Purple Line Extension
24-hour telephone: 213-922-6934
Mindy Lake (west segment; Hauser Blvd. to La Cienega Blvd.):
Michael Cortez (east segment; Hauser Blvd. to Western Ave.):
Metro Purple Line Extension links:
"Sleepless in the Miracle Mile" Update:
The MMRA collected nearly 800 signatures in our petition campaign to stop nighttime subway construction in the Miracle Mile. Although we have not yet succeeded in stopping all nighttime work (which we continue to oppose) our well-publicized campaign did motivate Metro to limit or rearrange nighttime construction to minimize complaints.
Now that a prime subway contractor has been engaged – Skanska, Traylor and Shea (STS) – officers of the MMRA are meeting regularly with representatives of Metro, STS, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and the Los Angeles Police Commission (which issues permits for nighttime construction).
The MMRA is adamant that the community have a direct voice in how subway construction in general is conducted in the Miracle Mile, including: the selection of haul routes; sound mitigation at the staging yards; loss of public parking; and protecting our small business and restaurants.
The residents of the Miracle Mile welcome the Purple Line subway extension. The MMRA will work closely with all parties involved to help manage the impacts on our community – while continuing our efforts to stop the noise disturbances of nighttime work.
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"Titan of the Ice Age: the La Brea Story in 3D" Premieres
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Premieres New 3D Theater on June 20th
Discounted Film Tickets Available to Miracle Mile Residents
Titans of the Ice Age: The La Brea Story in 3D, partially filmed at the La Brea Tar Pits and narrated by Academy Award® winning actor Christopher Plummer, will premiere at the new 3D theater in the George C. Page Museum building on Saturday, June 20, and will screen daily. The giant screen adventure will transport viewers to the otherworldly frozen landscapes of the northern hemisphere 10,000 years before modern civilization.
The new 3D theater and film will open as part of a suite of improvements to the museum, including refreshed entrance, lobby and gallery spaces. The mid-century Observation Pit designed by Henry Sims Bent (1952), the first museum in Hancock Park, has been reopened after several decades of closure. A trip inside the Observation Pit is part of the new “Excavator Tour,” free with museum admission.
Click on image to view trailer.
Tickets and Show Times:
Titans of the Ice Age runs daily every half hour, from 10 am to 4 pm. General admission to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum is $12 adults; $9 for youth, students and seniors; and $5 for children. Museum admission PLUS the film is $16 adults, $13 for youth, students and seniors; and $8 for children. Timed tickets available at tarpits.org.
Get tickets online to receive a special "Good Neighbor" discount. Use code NEIGHBORS at checkout for 50% off film admission (valid 6/20 - 6/30/15). Limited seats are available, reserve yours today: www.tarpits.org/titans
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
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Miracle Mile Real Estate • May 2015 Sales
Miracle Mile Real Estate
• May 2015 Sales •
1025 S. Ridgeley Dr.
3 bdrm; 2 bath
1,746 sq. ft
lot: 6,534 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,250,000
sale price: $1,315,800
sale date: 5/27/2015
922 S. Stanley Ave.
3 bdrm; 2 bath
1,387 sq. ft.
lot: 5,500 sq. ft.
listed price: $925,000
sale price: $980,000
sale date: 5/27/2015
1002 S. Burnside Ave. #10
condo:2 bdrm; 2 bath units
1,120 sq. ft.
listed price: $539,000
sale price: $550,000
sale date: 5/7/2015
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