Restoration Miracle on Alvarado
During the last year, the busy Glendale Boulevard - Alvarado Street area has seen remarkable changes that ten
years ago would have seemed impossible. Amidst the occasional shootings, robberies and assorted gang activity, there
has sprung up a movement to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood.
Carl Urman and his family have spent the last year renovating and restoring an early 1920s Spanish six-plex apartment
building at the corner of Lakeshore and Montana. The rental property has been in the Urman family for four generations.
After a fire last year damaged much of one apartment and caused smoke damage in another, the family decided to
restore the entire building. Duplicating from one originally intact apartment, the Urman family meticulously restored
each of the units, including updating the electrical and plumbing, custom wood windows, restoring all the wood floors, molding,
extensive tile work and built-ins.
“I’d do it again,” admits Carl wearily.
Adding to the beautification of the Glendale/Alvarado Corridor is the Sanchez family, who last October, bought a total
of eight homes on five lots on the 1400 block of Alvarado Street, the earliest c. 1911. The previous owner had planned
to demolish the structures, across from Rite-Aid, and a self-service car wash, for a new development,” said Alina Sanchez.
“But his plans fell through.”
The Sanchez family intends to restore all eight buildings.
“Three of the buildings were in what most would consider unrestorable condition,” Sanchez says. “Many
of the contractors at first do not understand what we are trying to do and why. … We want to bring this area back to
The first of their restored bungalows was recently sold.
These dramatic restorations are good news for an area that is fervently attempting to hang on to its historical flavor.
With the Los Angeles Times recently declaring Echo Park the “alternative universe” and with real estate prices
continuing to rise, developers with dollar signs and an aversion to preservation are not far behind.
Yet, while last fall, American Apparel, the largest garment manufacturer in Los Angeles, opened a store and gallery
near Sunset and Alvarado, and with the success of Down Beat Café, 33 1/3 Bookstore and Gallery, and the Echo Park Film Center,
there is hope that the spirit of preservation prevails.