Expo Line Steams Full Speed Ahead

P1020845For the first time since the 1950s, Los Angeles has a transit line that connects Downtown to the beaches of Santa Monica — and real estate developers have taken notice.

If you look at real estate ads in other metropolitan areas of the country, you’ll see “close to mass transit” as a feature for which people are willing to pay a premium. In Los Angeles “freeway close” has created mixed emotions for homeowners and landlords alike.
With Los Angeles’ legendary sprawl, the lack of a workable transit system has led people to seek housing that is close enough to a freeway (so that getting there on the way to work isn’t too painful an experience), but just far enough that one won’t hear freeway noise (or worse, be able to give a traffic report by simply looking out their window).

For the past ten years, savvy real estate investors have been snatching up homes, apartment buildings and land along the Expo corridor. And though the wait for the line to be completed may have seemed interminable, those investors and developers who were able to bide their time are now reaping the benefits.

“Close to mass transit” apartment buildings are already getting premium rents as they extend the reach of tenants who don’t want to have to drive everywhere. What still remains to be seen is how single family home prices will be affected along the route. As the MTA system gets more embedded in the LA psyche, what was once considered stigmatized properties (because of their proximity to the Expo right-of-way) are predicted to become more attractive premium properties due to this novel amenity.

Commercial developers are already planning “destination business locations” (née Strip Centers with restaurants and stores) in space that has been maintenance deferred or otherwise held vacant for years. Will the Expo Line be the answer to LA’s transit woes? Sadly, no. But at least it’s now easier to get down to the sand without having to worry about the high price of the beach parking lots.

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