OK, the LA Times piece on the condo sales slowdown in downtown is a tad odd. The story's biggest problem: The extensive photo gallery accompanying the piece features a downtown broker named Stephen May--who isn't even mentioned in the actual story--wearing a straw hat. Digest the weirdness of the photo gallery and move on to this: The piece quotes various experts stating that developers overbuilt, (you think?) notes some people are leaving downtown (they miss gardens and garages), and that the loft-living lifestyle has limited appeal. Fair enough. But the meat of the Times' story is this data: "The median sales price for homes sold downtown, almost all of which are condos, fell to $497,360 for the fourth quarter of last year, 16% below the peak reached in early 2007, according to DataQuick." Awful, right? Maybe not. The story goes on to offer a statistic about the number of new residents moving downtown--they are moving at a pace that's more than double the number moving to the rest of LA-- that makes it seem like things may actually be not so bad.
But first, more bad data: "By comparison, condo prices fell 7% from their peak in Los Angeles County during the same period and 11% from their peak in Orange County, DataQuick said. The median sales price for condos in both counties in the fourth quarter of 2007 was $410,000."
The story also includes a quote about the winos (winos!) congregating downtown, infers that the developers behind Santee Lofts are so desperate for sales that they're giving away free Mini-Coopers, and also includes a statement about the need for affluent buyers to move downtown.
Depressed? Don't jump! People are actually moving downtown--and in droves! "According to the downtown Business Improvement District, the total has grown 42% in the last three years, based on a formula that figures 1.6 persons per housing unit. The city, using U.S. census data, estimates more modest growth of 20% downtown from 2000 to 2006. But that still outpaced L.A.'s growth of 8% for that period."
On that cheerier news, the story ramps into positive mode, quoting rah-rah Downtown District's Carol Schatz saying everything is A-OK. Yeah! Wait. But we end with a quote from a South Park developer comparing the development of Los Angeles to the development of Portland. "That process took 20 years in Portland." OK, back to the straw-hat broker. Thankfully, there is info on May at Blogdowntown, while LA Land blogger Peter Viles weighs on the story, too. Viles works downtown and can't even find a Hallmark card on his lunch break. [Photo via Eric Richardson/Blogdowntown]
· Downtown not the center of it all [LA Times]