The History of Westwood

The Westwood that we know today was not always a bustling neighborhood packed with students and a cultural hub for entertainment. It was once a quiet town that was owned by Edward and Harold Janss. It was not until the 1920’s that they offered to sell a portion of their land to the University of California Board of Regents. UCLA was originally named the Southern Branch of the University of California and was located on Vermont Avenue, but due to increased enrollment, the school moved in 1925 to Westwood. It was required that the future campus site be gifted lands, and this is what later led to the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, and Beverly Hills to purchase the land from the Janss brothers for $1.3 million to later donate the land to the Regents.

Construction began on the Westwood campus in 1927. It was the Janss brother’s goal to attract businesses that would not only bolster the atmosphere of the campus but also fit the needs of all the students and civilians who called their townhome. Because of this goal, each store that was brought into the village provided a different element that would assist the university and grow along with it. However, in 1955 the Janss brother’s sold their remaining titles to two real estate developers. This sale marked the end of the united front that had been created between the businesses and the university over the last 30 years. This sale created much animosity between business owners over the years, especially in the 1970s when there was an influx indirectly competing businesses because landlords did not communicate as to what kind of stores were going to be coming into the area. Over time urbanizing businesses emerged in the village and because of this, the city of Los Angeles pushed into effect zoning ordinances to help preserve the architectural and historical value’s that the village was founded on.

What ended up becoming the main tool of attraction for Westwood was the impact of movie premiers. This is what ended up shifting Westwood in the 1970s from a quiet, student-oriented area to a hot spot for entertainment. Movies like “The Godfather” and “The Exorcist” were premiered in Westwood, and it quickly became the only place to see new releases on the big screen. Because of the influx of people who seemed to find their way into the village every weekend for these large-scale premiers, high-end retailer’s began to close and in the 1980s were replaced by bars, fast food restaurants, and yogurt stands. Due to the role that the entertainment business played in Westwood and the number of people who flocked to its streets every weekend, the rise in violence occurred. Because of this sudden rise of violence Westwood has been branded a new name in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Due to these issues, the village suffered from growing vacancy rates in the early 2000s, but since then businesses have returned to their storefronts and the vacancy rates according to some have no dropped below 16%. With the Metro Purple Line Extension’s construction beginning in just a few short years, many believe Westwood will face another decrease in business, but with it’s expected completion in 2026, the opportunity for new economic growth will once again turn its head towards the once quiet village of Westwood.

Unfortunately, the decline in vacancies in the Westwood area does not mean that prices have become anymore favorable for possible renters. In 2018, Westwood has been deemed the most expensive area for renters in the entire state of California. With the average apartment rental being just below $4,900 per month. The 90024 zip code ranks 3rd on RentCafe’s list of the top 50 priciest zip codes in the nation. The only two zip codes who are before the 90024 area are both located in lower Manhattan. This study which used Yardi to analyze costs also was able to show that rent prices have increased in all specified zip codes by nearly 3% since last year. With the number of students enrolling at UCLA every year increasing, Westwood faces no shortage of individuals looking for housing around the campus. Although rental prices are on the rise, the median listing price for homes in the area has continued to trend downwards. The median list price for a single-family home in Westwood in July 2019 was down -16.3%. The median listing price per square foot was $796 and the median sale price was roughly $950k. Even with the median listing price continuing to drop, homes in Westwood still sold for nearly 3% below the asking price in July 2019. On average homes in Westwood tend to sit on the market for around 60 days which is a slight increase from June 2019 and is a slight increase from last years average as well. Regardless of high rental prices and homes sitting on the market for slightly longer, the median price per foot of a home has decreased and with no shortage of individuals looking to live in this area due to its proximity to some of the major freeways in the area, Westwood finds itself in the middle of a balanced market.

One of the most famous parts of Westwood happens to be the Wilshire Corridor. The bulk of luxury condominiums in Los Angeles reside in the Wilshire Corridor and over the years the median sale price has continued to rise. In 2018 there were over 160 sales made in the Wilshire Corridor which was about the same from the previous year in 2017. In this area, square footage can range from 600 sq./ft. at the Wilshire Regent where the lowest sale was roughly $450,000 to the penthouse at the Wilshire house which totaled 6,700 sq./ft. with a sale price of $10,600,000. Regardless of the difference in square footage and price between these two buildings, the median price for sales in 2018 was $1,267,000 which was up 0ver 15% from 2017. There are roughly 60 units up for sale in the Corridor currently and is considered to be an overall balanced market.