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MMRA Annual Meeting & Town Hall
Saturday • November 7, 2015 • 10 AM~12:30 PM
Korean Cultural Center
5505 Wilshire Blvd. @ Dunsmuir Ave.
~parking available behind building~
photo by Justin Fields
Councilmember David Ryu to Speak
at Miracle Mile Annual Meeting
Councilmember David Ryu will be the keynote speaker at the Miracle Mile Residential Association’s 32nd Annual Meeting and Town Hall on November 7, 2015. “As the recently elected representative of Council District 4, we wanted to provide our residents with an opportunity to meet Mr. Ryu and share their concerns with him,” said MMRA Vice President Ken Hixon.
Neighorhood Prosecutor Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri from the City Attorney’s office will be on hand to discuss her work in the Miracle Mile and surrounding areas. [Ms. Zahiri was interviewed in the November 2014 issue of the MMRA Newsletter.]
Scott Epstein from the Midtown Los Angeles Homelessness Coalition will brief the community on the organization’s efforts to help the homeless in the Miracle Mile. Representatives from L.A.P.D. Wilshire Division will offer their perspectives on this pressing matter, too.
MMRA President James O’Sullivan will moderate the meeting and offer an overview on current and future issues effecting our neighborhood. HPOZ Committee Chairperson Mark Zecca will provide an update on the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.
The speakers will be followed by a town hall style session where residents can raise issues or questions. All residents of the Miracle Mile are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.
Join…Renew…Support the MMRA!
Help Us Make Your Voices Heard
The Miracle Mile Residential Association is a consensus-driven organization comprised of renters and homeowners dedicated to preserving the quality of life in the Miracle Mile. We are confronting major changes to our community – help us to make your voices heard by joining the MMRA or renewing your membership. Your $25 annual dues payment allows us to be vigorous advocates for our neighborhood.
Over the past several years the MMRA has reinvented itself as a “digital” residential association to improve our outreach via our monthly email newsletter, website, YouTube channel, Facebook, and Twitter. This effort has garnered much attention from elected officials, community and business leaders, as well as the media. It has greatly enhanced the MMRA’s reputation as an active, well informed, and effective organization – one to be reckoned with. But all the tools in our digital toolbox costs money. Without your financial support our voices will be muted and our ability to communicate with you will be hobbled.
The MMRA is fortunate to have board members dedicated to serving and protecting our community: attorneys, realtors, accountants, writers, and professionals of all stripes. Please acknowledge these hard working volunteers by joining the MMRA or renewing your $25 annual membership today. The best way to give the MMRA a “thumbs up” is by clicking the PayPal button below (to pay by check, click on the link below and fill out the membership form). Thank you...
PLEASE NOTE: Financial contributions to the Miracle Mile Residential Association will not qualify you for a tax deduction. The MMRA is not a charitable organization, it is a non-profit civic entity organized exclusively for the promotion of social welfare of its membership under 501 (c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
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Metro Proposes 7-Week Closure of Wilshire for Cut-and-Cover Work
Illustration of cut-and-cover work depicting the installation
of beams to support street decking.
Metro Proposes 7-Week Closure
of Wilshire for Cut-and-Cover Work
Share your opinion via our online poll…
Metro is seeking community support to close Wilshire Boulevard from La Brea Avenue to Highland Avenue for 7 weeks in early 2016 to install temporary street decking to speed up construction of the Wilshire/La Brea subway station. Originally, Metro had proposed doing the decking over 16 consecutive weekends.
The “cut-and-cover” process would begin in November 2015 and involves the installation of piles – vertical steel posts drilled into the ground – along both sides of Wilshire, followed by the removal of the pavement on Wilshire from Detroit to just east of Orange Drive. Once the pavement is removed, a trench 10-to-12 feet deep is excavated. Then horizontal beams are affixed atop the piles to support temporary concrete deck panels which will form a new street surface. The closures for street decking would begin next Spring. Once the temporary roadway is in place, the underground station will be constructed beneath the decking.
Click on image to enlarge.
As depicted in the illustration above, Metro’s proposed 7-week accelerated schedule would only apply to the section in green – immediately east of the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea to just east of Orange Drive.
The cut-and-cover construction from Detroit through the intersection of La Brea and Wilshire (shown in purple) is not part of the accelerated proposal. Because this is a major intersection the decking of this section will be done over a total of 6 weekends, which will require around-the-clock construction from 8 PM Friday evening to 6 AM Monday morning. During the first 3 weekends Metro crews will deck Wilshire from Detroit to just west of La Brea; the following 3 weekends the intersection of La Brea and Wilshire will receive its deck.
Metro’s accelerated 7-week proposal to close Wilshire from the intersection at La Brea to Highland will allow for a 7-days-a-week schedule with the noisier work conducted from 7 AM to 11 PM and quieter underground work beneath the concrete deck panels from 11 PM to 7 AM.
Although through traffic on Wilshire between La Brea and Highland would be detoured, local access to businesses and residences will be maintained. Eastbound Wilshire traffic will be detoured south on La Brea, east on Olympic, and north on Highland. Westbound Wilshire traffic will be detoured south on Highland, west on Olympic, and north on La Brea. Neither 6th St. or 8th St. would be utilized as detour routes. Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) traffic officers would be deployed throughout the area to direct traffic. These detour routes will be used whether or not the accelerated 7-week schedule or the original 16-weekend schedule is chosen.
The MMRA has not yet taken an official position on this accelerated 7-week proposal. MMRA officers have met with Metro to discuss the proposal and are now consulting with local residents, business owners, the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, La Brea/Hancock Homeowners Association, and other community organizations. Residents and local business owners can weigh in on this issue via our online poll below.
The advantages of the 7-week schedule for Metro are obvious – it is a far more efficient way of accomplishing this complicated task. The advantage for the nearby residents is that it greatly reduces noise disturbances between the hours of 11 PM and 7 AM. The time constraints of limiting this work to weekends would require that pavement demolition and excavation be conducted all night long over a 16 week time period.
The MMRA’s position opposing nighttime subway construction is well known. Our “Sleepless in the Miracle Mile” petition campaign generated strong support from the community. But the MMRA has always acknowledged that the weekend cut-and-cover work at major intersections required nighttime activity and our opposition to nighttime work purposely exempted this particular aspect of subway construction.
However, there are cons to this proposal. A 7-week closure could magnify the economic impact on local businesses. The MMRA is particularly concerned for small businesses that are popular with our residents. Larger corporate owned entities have the financial resources to withstand a sustained 7-week interruption of through traffic on Wilshire Boulevard. The independently owned and operated stores and restaurants are much more vulnerable.
Traffic impacts on Highland Avenue might also be considerable. Highland narrows to one lane in each direction south of Wilshire and detour-related bottlenecks could push traffic onto all the feeder streets in the surrounding blocks, particularly 8th St.
Neighborhood schools may be hit the hardest. Children at Wilshire Crest (Sycamore and Olympic), Cathedral Chapel (8th and Cochran), Wilshire Private (Longwood and Wilshire), and John Burroughs Middle School (McCadden and Wilshire) will be exposed to the general crush of continual traffic. Burroughs students, in particular, may provoke the ire of already frustrated drivers, when they cross on foot at the intersection at Highland and Wilshire. The corner has the potential to become a perfect storm between pedestrian and automotive traffic.
In relative terms, the original plan of weekends-only closures would likely mean less traffic intrusion into our neighborhood. Weekday car trips – which include employees going to and from work in the Miracle Mile, parents ferrying school children, and such things as business deliveries – far out-number weekend journeys. Fewer cars equate to less cut-through traffic on residential streets and traffic jams at major intersections.
By November 12, 2015 Metro needs to determine whether to proceed with the accelerated 7-week schedule, or they’ll run out of time to seek approvals from various city agencies. The MMRA board of directors with make a formal decision on the proposal at its next board meeting on November 5, 2015.
The MMRA is a consensus based organization. We encourage residents and local business owners to share your opinions on this proposal. We use SurveyMonkey for our polls. It is a secure and simple way to gather your input. Poll participants are anonymous and your honesty is welcomed.
For additional information:
Metro: Purple Line Extension Community Meeting Presentation, Sept. 17, 2015
Larchmont Buzz, Oct. 12, 2015: Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association Discusses Metro Plans and Elects New Board Members at Annual Meeting
Click on image to view an Animation of the Pile
Installation and Street Decking Process
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Mobility Plan 2035 and the Rowena Road Diet: Where the Law of Unintended Consequences Enters The Twilight Zone
Mobility Plan 2035 and the Rowena Road Diet:
Where the Law of Unintended Consequences
Enters The Twilight Zone
by James O’Sullivan, MMRA President
The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it. – The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
hen the City of Los Angeles approved Mobility Plan 2035 earlier this year it not only unleashed the law of unintended consequences, it thrust us into a missing episode of The Twilight Zone
: “The Rowena Avenue Road Diet.” An episode that could be coming soon to a street near you.
Unraveling why and how the Rowena road diet came to be and trying to understand what it is supposed to accomplish is to cross over into another dimension where good intentions and political agendas engage in hand-to-hand combat with common sense and reality – and all sides lose.
Let me back up and try to provide a sensible explanation of how we have found ourselves lost in space. The Mobility Plan 2035 is a new transportation plan for the city that is touted by its creators as aspirational
– a poetic word to candy coat the many bitter pills it contains. Of all the so-called remedies prescribed by the plan, road diets are one of the hardest to swallow.
Prior to the adoption of the new Mobility Plan, the Rowena road diet was installed after the tragic death of a pedestrian who was stuck by a vehicle while crossing that street late one night. Rowena is a poorly lit street and doesn’t have signaled crosswalks. The community and then-Councilmember Tom LaBonge attempted to come up with a plan to protect pedestrians, including the children attending Ivanhoe Elementary at Herkimer and Rowena.
Neighbors lobbied for what they thought was a common sense solution: a signalized cross walk. They did not get one. And this is where we begin to cross over into The Twilight Zone
, because it appears that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) rejected a signaled crosswalk because they believe crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security. I use the word “appears” because there is very little documentation available from the city on how any of this came to be. And the logic of LADOT that conceives of crosswalks as a threat to pedestrian safety is equally obscure.
So, instead of getting the signaled crosswalk that they wanted, the Rowena community got a road diet that was implemented with little to no outreach by the city and no studies performed to measure its impact on the neighborhood. And this is when the law of unintended consequences comes into play.
The Rowena road diet changed the street from four traffic lanes, with two lanes in each direction, into a three-lanes with one lane in each direction and a shared center turn lane. The space left over was used to create bike lanes. And, you guessed it, no new signaled crosswalks were installed.
The traffic engineers anointed the center turn lane as a “refuge lane” – a place for pedestrians (particularly the less nimble ones, like the elderly, the disabled, or a mom pushing a stroller) to pause when traversing the street. How this works when the lane is stacked up with vehicles waiting to make a left turn isn’t clear to me, but it evidently makes abundant sense to traffic engineers. They obviously like to keep pedestrians on their toes.
The city argues that road diets make streets safer. When you take away traffic lanes it creates congestion, which means vehicles will be going slower and any accidents that do happen will be less harmful due to reduced speeds. That lowering vehicle speed lowers the severity of injuries makes sense – but, on the other hand, purposely exacerbating congestion to achieve this goal evokes the law of unintended consequences, which in the case of Rowena created cut-through traffic on parallel streets. The road diet simply moved the danger onto other streets. In short, the city reduced risk on Rowena by transferring it to adjacent, much narrower, residential streets.
The Rowena road diet has proven to be no different than any kind of diet – people find ways to cheat. The cars that used to travel on Rowena now attempt to avoid the new congestion by using Waverly Drive and Angus Street. These streets have been overwhelmed by bumper-to-bumper traffic. Residents are unable to back their cars out of their driveways. Frustrated drivers are running the four-way stop signs. Ironically, some blocks of these streets have no sidewalks. Pedestrians must dodge impatient motorists as they walk along the edge of the street with their children and dogs.
How this complies with the city’s safe routes to schools strategy defies imagination. Now parents living along Waverly or Angus who used to let their children walk to school have wisely taken to driving them. How’s that for a Mobility Plan with the express purpose of getting people out of their cars?
You don’t have to take my word for the traffic chaos and road rage created by the Rowena road diet. Here’s a video posted by a resident on YouTube
. This is what the law of unintended consequences looks like. This is why the residents living along the Rowena corridor are so understandably outraged.
Could the unintended consequences of the Rowena road diet been avoided? It would be hubris to think that we are that smart, particularly when implementing radical change. But many of these problems could have been anticipated and possibly mitigated had there been rational process to determine whether a road diet was called for or not. There were no real studies done before Rowena was restriped. L.A.P.D. and the Fire Department were not asked about the effect on emergency responders. L.A.U.S.D was not asked about welfare of their students. No one from the city knocked on doors along Waverly and Angus to ask residents about their concerns.
How could the Rowena road diet happen without any due diligence or extensive public input, you ask? Again, absent a paper trail, it’s hard to figure that out. Here are my hunches. Tom LaBonge is a good man, but he always liked to take quick action – whatever the situation may be. I don’t doubt that the death of the young woman crossing Rowena deeply moved him, for good reason. But it probably made him especially vulnerable to the bike lane proponents who constantly work City Hall to promote their cause. The cyclists have done a brilliant job of selling bike lanes as the answer to every question. Hence, road diets are their mantra. It’s a simple equation for them: reducing traffic lanes adds bike lanes.
In September I participated in a well-attended town hall meeting at Ivanhoe Elementary to gather public input on the Rowena road diet [photo above
]. Several members from Councilmember David Ryu’s office were present and they heard both sides of the argument.
My comments to the council office at the time were that Councilmember Ryu needed to make certain the installation of the road diet followed the law and all applicable rules – something that was apparently not done when LaBonge created the road diet by fiat.
I know that Mr. Ryu is genuinely interested in listening to all sides before making a decision. However, first things first requires him to determine if the Rowena road diet was installed legally. If not, it must be removed and the proper rules followed to reinstall it – if indeed it is appropriate to do so.
In order to make that decision he needs to review the required traffic and safety studies, as well as meeting notices regarding this project, the agenda(s) of all public meetings where this road diet was discussed, notices placed in local newspapers notifying the public about the project and any other requirements required in order to install bike lanes. Getting the required information from the city departments in order to make an informed decision was one of the points he agreed to when he signed the candidate pledge during the primary election. The councilmember is a smart man and I’m sure he will get to the bottom of what happened and do what needs to be done based on the law and the pledge he signed.
In the meantime, even with its road diet, accidents continue to happen on Rowena Avenue. On Sunday evening, October 11, a gentleman was struck while crossing the street. His condition is unknown at this time. I pray he recovers quickly.
The moral of this particular story is be very careful what you ask for from the City of Los Angeles or you could find yourself in The Twilight Zone
For additional information:
theeastsiderla.com: Silver Lake Pedestrian Hit Crossing Rowena
Photo credits: Rowena traffic, theeastsiderla.com; Rowena traffic with cyclist, Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times; Rowena community meeting, Twitter.
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Miracle Mile Informs Residents about HPOZ Process
From left: James O'Sullivan, Katie Horak, Renata Dragland, and Mark Zecca.
Miracle Mile Informs Residents
about HPOZ Process
by Elizabeth Fuller
On Saturday, September 19, 2015, about 250 people attended a meeting hosted by the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) to educate the community about Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs), and the process the Association is going through currently to acquire an HPOZ for its neighborhood.
The meeting, at the Candela restaurant on La Brea, featured a panel of speakers including MMRA HPOZ Committee Chair Mark Zecca, MMRA President James O’Sullivan, Renata Dragland from the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources
, Katie Horak from Architectural Resources Group
(which specializes in surveys of historic neighborhoods and helping those neighborhoods navigate the HPOZ application process), and Robby O’Donnell, who lives in the Wilshire Park
HPOZ and has helped both her own and other area neighborhoods acquire HPOZ status.
This was the second neighborhood outreach meeting held by the MMRA as part of its organized efforts to secure HPOZ status for the area. (The first meeting, held in January of this year, can be viewed here
After a welcome by Mr. Zecca, Mr. O’Sullivan recounted the history of the HPOZ effort in Miracle Mile, saying it began in earnest after the first “McMansion” appeared in the neighborhood and people realized the area was vulnerable to further teardowns and oversized replacement homes.
He explained that the city is currently working on revisions to its Baseline Mansionization Ordinance
, to prevent further out-of-scale development in historic neighborhoods, and has recently enacted an Interim Control Ordinance
to prevent teardowns in certain neighborhoods while the BMO is being revised. Miracle Mile is one of the neighborhoods protected by the ICO, but it is also seeking HPOZ status to help provide permanent regulation of both teardowns and things like the scale, massing and setbacks of new construction (and the remodeling of existing homes) to maintain the neighborhood’s architectural integrity. He noted that the ICO is scheduled to expire on March 25, 2017, so an HPOZ would have to be in place by that date to provide continuous protection.
Ms. Dragland reported on the recent completion of a required historic survey of Miracle Mile
, which shows that the neighborhood, with more than 80% of existing homes qualifying as “contributing structures,” built during the 1920-1953 “period of significance” for the area. She further explained that an HPOZ is mostly concerned with the “visible facade” of structures, and that only new construction and renovations would be subject to review after an HPOZ was established; existing structures and modifications that pre-date the HPOZ would be grandfathered.
Neighbors attending the meeting expressed a number of concerns and questions, mostly about possible advantages and disadvantages of instituting an HPOZ, the review procedures homeowners would face for various kinds of renovations (window replacements, landscaping, additions, solar panels, fences, etc.) under an HPOZ, and how the HPOZ would be governed and rules enforced.
Regarding the advantages of HPOZs, Mr. Zecca noted that studies from around the country have found that property values are usually higher in HPOZ-protected neighborhoods, because buyers making long-term home-purchase decisions prefer to know that a neighborhood will retain its architectural character. Ms. Dragland agreed, saying, “Your home in an HPOZ area is worth more than one in an area that does not have one.”
In addition, Mr. Zecca noted that an HPOZ would also protect older multi-family housing, which is rent controlled and – because of the rent control – tends to attract longer-term tenants, who also help to stabilize the neighborhood. He noted that new multi-family developments are not subject to rent control, and often give tenants only six-month leases, which allow rents to rise even faster, and which leads to a lot of tenant turnover and less engagement of those short-term tenants with the community.
The down side of HPOZs, said Ms. O’Donnell, is that – because they’re enforced by reporting rather than proactive review by the city – they can seem to encourage “tattletales.” Also, there have been cases where residents, unaware they live in an HPOZ or what that means, embark on expensive renovations without first going through the required review process. And in some cases, those homeowners have lost valuable time and money having to pause, cancel or re-do work already completed. But both of these problems, she said, can be avoided with good communications, so all residents know what the rules are and how to proceed when they want to work on their homes. Ms. O’Donnell also noted that realtors are legally obligated to inform potential buyers about the HPOZ when they sell a property, so no one will buy a house with expectations of tearing it down quickly or altering it in an incompatible manner.
Ms. O’Donnell went on to say that in her Wilshire Park neighborhood, the benefits of the HPOZ have far outweighed the disadvantages. She said that as soon as the HPOZ was instituted, people began repairing properties that had suffered long bouts of disrepair (one even won a recent preservation award), and people began to see “better uses” for the houses than before the protections went into effect, which improved the entire neighborhood. “For us,” she said, “it’s been nothing but good.”
Regarding the kinds of renovations allowed under an HPOZ, and the procedures for securing permissions and permits, Ms. Dragland explained that each HPOZ writes its own preservation plan, and some are more or less restrictive than others (for example, paint colors may or may not be an included item for review). Mr. Zecca explained that the 5-person HPOZ board contains members chosen or appointed by various stakeholders, including the mayor, the neighborhood and others, and is required to include both neighbors and people with professional architectural expertise.
As the MMRA continues to navigate the HPOZ process, Mr. Zecca said there will be further community meetings, workshops, and a public hearing, so residents will have further opportunities to learn and voice their opinions about the issue. He also recommended that residents contact the City Council District 4 office with their comments and concerns, both pro and con.
Saturday’s meeting was recorded, and video is available on the MMRA’s YouTube channel
]. For more information, see the Miracle Mile HPOZ website
This article first appeared in the Larchmont Buzz on September 21, 2015. The Larchmont Buzz provides online news from Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire area. Elizabeth Fuller is a former resident of the Sycamore Square neighborhood and is the co-owner and publisher of the Buzz. Our thanks to Liz for permission to republish this article.
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Now Playing on the MMRA Channel...
Now playing on the MMRA channel...
Click on image to view video.
A two-part video of the Miracle Mile HPOZ Community Meeting, held on Sept. 19, 2015, is available for viewing on the MMRA Channel on YouTube
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Miracle Mile Spotlight ~ Jack Enyart: An Artist's Eye for History
Miracle Mile Spotlight
Jack Enyart: An Artist’s Eye for History
Jack Enyart [self portrait below] has deep roots in this part town. He grew up in Hancock Park – the son of a “Mad Man” era ad man – and attended John Burroughs Middle School. Jack has had a long career in the cartoon business. He’s worked on an assortment of projects: Looney Tunes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Pink Panther, among others. In his living room he keeps a rack of the many comic books he has worked on [below]. As a talented artist and writer, Jack has a keen eye for his surroundings. Details matter to him.
Jack and his wife, Kay, lived at Park La Brea for fifteen years. They moved out over a year ago “because Park La Brea is suffering real problems with management that just doesn’t understand its own community. Park La Brea is an example of a community that needs to be protected and management was making changes that ignore history and aesthetics – and they are irrevocable. Los Angeles, in so many different ways, still doesn’t have a sense of our own history,” Jack remarked. “When you lose a piece of history it makes it harder to argue to save the next piece.”
Their love of history drew Jack and his wife to the Miracle Mile. “This neighborhood is like a beautiful pocket in L.A.,” he said. Their search for a new home led them to a lovely, vintage fourplex [above]. They are delighted to find themselves living in a community that very much cares about its history. Jack is a supporter of the Miracle Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. “This isn’t an elitist thing, this is something I can participate in.” Jack is a member of the Art Deco Society, which successful sponsored the Firestone Tire building at 8th and La Brea for official landmark status.
Jack says that he is “too busy to retire.” He consults on animation projects and teaches. “Fine art has become very important to me.” He has developed a successful trade doing commissioned portraits. One of the things he likes about living in the Miracle Mile is that there are so many fun and interesting places to conduct business meetings, such as LACMA or the Farmers Market.
Moving to the Miracle Mile also opened a new source of commissioned work for Jack. “I live on a street of dog owners, they are always out walking their dogs. So, now I’m doing portraits of their pets,” he explains with a laugh.
For more information on Jack visit: www.jackenyart.com. Or you can contact him via email at: email@example.com.
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Miracle Mile Real Estate • September 2015 Sales
Miracle Mile Real Estate
• September 2015 Sales •
822 S. Spaulding Ave.
3 bdrm; 4 bath
2,095 sq. ft
lot 5,500 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,649,000
sale price: $1,750,000
842 S. Stanley Ave.
duplex: 2 - 3 bdrm; 2 bath units
3,430 sq. ft.
lot: 5,501 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,250,000
sale price: $1,250,000
sale date: 9/11/2015
1033 S. Stanley Ave.
duplex: 2 - 3 bdrm; 2 bath units
2,977 sq. ft.
lot: 5,236 sq. ft.
listed price: $900,000
sale price: $910,000
sale date: 9/24/2015
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(...below the fold...)